It is one of the oddities of history that the earlier political forays into Medical Care with government participation had a Republican in favor and Labor Unions opposed.
Teddy Roosevelt's Progressive Party supported it and Labor Unions opposed it. Roosevelt
had split with the Republican Party and was influence by the American Association of Labor
Legislation(AALL) and included a plank in his platform. The American Federation of Labor
(AFL) felt worker benefits should be an organizing tool rather than by government
intervention. Another harmful effect in history is that the Socialist Party proposed a medical
System as early as 1904 and opposition has attacked Government Health Care as socialism
and Communism every since. Even as Universal Health Care is involved in its best chance
of becoming a reality, the charge of Socialism is its greatest enemy. It may be the one thing
that can destroy the grass roots power that is necessary to great social change.
The 1920's continued with slow development in Medical health Care delivery systems. The elite and intellectuals pursued Government involvement with out much success. They never learned the are of developing a grass roots movements. The slow growing Union Movement continued to bargain for Health care as an organizing technique. The Science of Medical Care began to develop at a more rapid pace and the access to advance techniques became more complicated and expensive. People began to have hope in medicine and were less willing to accept sickness and death as the will of God. The problem then as now was who can afford it.
The Great Depression seem to be a opportunity to advance the cause, but the overriding concern was work and wages rather than Health care. The Labor Union movement finally got government backing and Roosevelt felt more comfortable getting the Social Security system started rather than fight the Socialist Battles by copying the Health systems developing in Europe. The non-profit Blue cross and Blue shield systems were growing and forming associations with each other but serving individually in the different States.
World WAR ll brought wage controls but opened up benefit possibilities with tax advantages for companies and Medical insurance started a more rapid growth. Private insurance plans found it more profitable to enter the market. The Tax Reform Act of 1986 under Ronald Reagan took away some of the tax advantage of the Blue Cross/Blue shield non profits to allow for profit Companies to compete more effectively.
The next real chance for national Health Insurance came under Harry Truman. Truman's commission on the Health Needs of the Nation declared it a "Basic Human Right". President Truman wanted to protect all people equally against ill health. Unfortunately Southern Democrats did not like the opposition of Truman to Segregation and joined Republicans to oppose most of Truman's major domestic proposals. Seems to echo the Republicans alliance with Right wing Christians of the South in today's politics.
The only real success in bringing health care under Government influence began with the Veterans Care System and then when Medicare and Medicaid Bill was signed into law under the Lyndon Johnson Administration July 30, 1965 Finally President George Bush created the Prescription Drug Benefit under Medicare in 2003. That was an unusual thing for Republicans
to do until you realize that the Bill was never Funded with taxes and was designed to protect the Monopoly Drug companies had on prices in the US. He also gave Private insurance companies a bigger role in providing Coverage for Drugs under The Advantage Plans that allowed them to charge the government higher prices for their service than it cost the Social Security System to do the same job.. That is one of the Major reasons for the fast growing cost of Medical Insurance.
It is also one of the major reasons for Republican Opposition to the Health Care Plans now being advanced through Congress.
So we are once again at a cross road in equatable Health Care for all Americans. After a hundred years of Republican opposition will we fail again. Have we developed the grass root movement we will need to force a vote for justice and fair treatment or will the cry "SOCIALISM" once again blind the people to the hidden hand of Special Interest. Will the protection of high profits for Insurance Companies kill the courage of some Democrats to serve the people instead of themselves. Lives are at stake and we must decide how much a life is worth. It is one thing to accept Death in the fight for Liberty, but how much Death is acceptable in the fight to protect "Profits" and the protection of the wealth of the few over the benefit of the many. Let us at least this time use the power of Democracy to protect the well being of the American People.