BeingWell
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BeingWell

Congress Must Courageously Collaborate for Our Health’s Sake

We can overcome our differences to act for the common good.

On July 30, 1965, President Lyndon B. Johnson signs Medicare, a health insurance program for elderly Americans, into law. The bill-signing ceremony took place at the Truman Library in Independence, Missouri. Former President Harry Truman, a proponent of greater access to health benefits 10 years earlier, was enrolled as the first Medicare first beneficiary and received the first Medicare card.

ACCESS TO HEALTH IS AN HISTORIC STRUGGLE

In 1961, actor and aspiring politician Ronald Reagan suggested in a recorded message that extending the Social Security Act to include medical benefits for seniors was tantamount to the rise of socialism in America, an attack that Wall Street Journal reporter Roger Lowenstein called a “stealth program” led by the American Medical Association to protect an economic status quo. Reagan encouraged listeners to join a letter-writing campaign to Congress with the message:

LIKE AGING, DISEASE, AND ILLNESS HAVE NO PARTY AFFILIATION

As written in Ecclesiastes, “There is a time to heal and a time to plant…” Politics at its best when its leaders — our leaders — work across the party aisle to address societal needs — to heal and to plant — and eventually harvest new ideas.

COLLABORATION IS NOT A NICETY — IT IS A NATIONAL URGENCY

When Lyndon Johnson assumed the presidency after John F. Kennedy’s assassination, two groups of Americans were largely uninsured: the elderly and the poor. Medicare and Medicaid, bills — debated, passed, and perfected over time through bipartisan action — lifted people up from fear of suffering and poverty. Cornerstones of Johnson’s Great Society achievement, they remain bedrock some 55 years later.

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Gil Bashe

Ambassador for health communications as the bridge connecting healers and those seeking to be healed. Medika Life author and editor-in-chief.