Filed Under:  Letter to the Editor

The name ‘Obamacare’

5th November 2012   ·   0 Comments

Universal health care in the U.S. was proposed in a letter by Republican President Teddy Roosevelt in 1907. It was central to his campaign when he ran for president in 1912. If he had won, there was enough support in congress that it well could have passed and become law.

By 1917 universal health care was derided as a “Prussian menace,” a program coming from Germany, our opponents in World War I. Germany had been offering its citizens a form of health coverage since 1883.

In 1948, when Democratic President Harry Truman proposed it, the idea was attacked as being Communist, an idea from Russia. Whatever was the most hated country of the day, its opponents, in their excess zeal, said that must be where the idea originated from.

In 1965, our president LBJ tried to get it passed, but he couldn’t get it out of committee. The bill was attacked as a foreign concept, socialism from England that we did not want to copy. So there was a compromise and Medicare, guaranteed health care for those over 65, was passed instead.

Even though universal health care was made a national issue again in a 1990 U.S. senate race in Pennsylvania and in the 1992 presidential race, universal health care became known by its detractors as Obamacare.

In 2008, all the top Demo­cratic presidential candidates backed it. Then President Obama insisted for months that congress, not he, write the law. The conviction in America that health care should be affordable for everyone springs up from the bottom, from those millions of families who need it, not from the top down. It is an old Republican idea from 1907, although the White House has accepted and embraced the term Obamacare, since that is what people have mistakenly called it.

– Buddy Bougere

This article originally published in the November 05, 2012 print edition of The Louisiana Weekly newspaper.

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