When Medicare Was The New Frontier. As the first cabinet appointee, Connecticut Governor Abraham Ribicoff became Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare in the Kennedy Administration. One of his uphill fights was for the passage of Medicare. Seems there was big resistance to that, even in 1962.
September 17, 2010

Abraham Ribicoff - being Senator was a lot easier than being Secretary of HEW. And he had the scars to prove it.

Former Connecticut Governor Abraham Ribicoff was the first cabinet appointee of the Kennedy Administration. Ribicoff became Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare in 1961. One of his first goals was to finally usher in a comprehensive Government Health plan for the aged and disabled. Medicare was one of those forward looking pieces of legislation much associated with The New Frontier, even though it had its roots back to the Truman Administration. It proved to be an uphill battle for Ribicoff and Medicare wound up being stalled and not passed until 1965, when it became something of a memorial tribute to JFK during the Johnson administration.

But in 1962, Ribicoff was heavily promoting the plan on various Public Affairs panel shows, including this episode of Meet The Press from June 19, 1962.

Maryann Means (Hearst Newspapers): “Philosophically, this (Medicare) represents a new area in which government is going to be involved in the lives of individuals. Don’t you think that the doctors have some justification in being concerned with this trend?

Abraham Ribicoff: “No, I don’t agree with you Miss Means, because it is not a new trend. The government is already in the field of medicine in the so-called controversial Kerr-Mills bill. The government is in the field of medicine. The government is in the field of medicine in the Veterans Administration. The government is in the field of medicine in giving medical care for people on relief and people on old-age assistance. So the government today is very much in medicine. The government is in medicine under the Hill-Burton Program with grants to hospitals. The government is in medicine in a fantastically large research program. So the United States Government has been in medicine for a long time and very heavy Miss Means.”

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