Be Afraid, Be Very Afraid

By Gregg A. Masters, MPH

Watching the ensuing theater unleashed by SCOTUS’ ruling on the Affordable Care Act, I came across some similar sound bytes from a ‘by gone era’ – or so we thought.

Since we are not likely to see these disingenuous, ‘don’t confuse me with the facts, my mind is already made up’ foes fold their tents and go home defeated, we can expect a re-grouping of the troops around a yet to be crafted all out ‘Citizens United‘ fueled offensive to pick away at and then ultimately attempt it’s repeal.

Inside this earlier media enabled public discourse we find the usual suspects [or their predecessor organizations], but then again some rather unsuspecting foes of what was then an emerging and rather compelling societal and public health concern. Perhaps best framed by an actor turned politician, forecasting the threats to freedom from a Government takeover of medicine:

The doctor begins to lose freedoms; it’s like telling a lie, and one leads to another. First you decide that the doctor can have so many patients. They are equally divided among the various doctors by the government. But then the doctors aren’t equally divided geographically, so a doctor decides he wants to practice in one town and the government has to say to him you can’t live in that town, they already have enough doctors. You have to go someplace else. And from here it is only a short step to dictating where he will go. – Ronald Reagan, 1961.

One of the traditional methods of imposing statism or socialism has been by way of medicine….If you don’t do this, one of these days you and I are going to spend our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children what it was like in American when men were free. – From Ronald Reagan’s 1961 taped anti-Medicare message, “Ronald Reagan Speaks Out Against Socialized Medicine” paid for by AMA and AMPAC.

Not unlike today, there was a rather determined campaign to inject the fear of tyranny associated with an alleged Government take over of Medicine into the hearts and minds of the American public. We see many if not all of the same ‘talking points’ in the political diatribes before our very eyes and ears.  Yet, the surprises [back then] were from several usual allies of progressive thought leadership in the organization and financing of US healthcare, including:

[The Medicare bill would] set up a health care program which served little or no necessary social purpose and which would be a direct, unwarranted and completely unfair intrusion in private enterprise. – Dr. Clifford H. Keene, Kaiser Foundation Health Plan.

For a walk down memory lane, and there are some gems from the likes of American Medical Association, and the International Association of Health Underwriters, as well as context if not a score card of the sound bytes yet to come, click here.


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