The battle for national healthcare insurance is not new and goes back almost a to the era of President Theodore Roosevelt.
In opening remarks at the March 5 White House conference on healthcare, President Obama gave credit to Roosevelt when he noted that “The problems we face today are a direct consequence of actions that we failed to take yesterday. Since Teddy Roosevelt first called for reform nearly a century ago, we have talked and we have tinkered. We have tried and fallen short, we’ve stalled for time, and again we have failed to act because of Washington politics or industry lobbying.”
President Theodore Roosevelt lived during what was known as the Progressive Era. A proponent of health insurance, he believed that a country could be strong only if its people were healthy. Roosevelt’s successors were conservatives, who postponed the kind of leadership that might have involved the government more extensively in managing the nation’s social welfare.
One plank in the Progressive Party 1912 platform – when Roosevelt was the party’s candidate for president — was “The protection of home life against the hazards of sickness, irregular employment and old age through the adoption of a system of social insurance adapted to American use.” The proposed health service was local, not centralized, with employers contributing one third of the cost and workers contributing two-thirds.