No End to Media Myths About Healthcare Policy

Dandelion Salad

by Norman Solomon
Mar 8, 2008

I remember the ferocious media debate over the proper government role in healthcare — 43 years ago. As the spring of 1965 got underway, the bombast was splattering across front pages and flying through airwaves.

A bill in Congress aimed to assure some basic healthcare for all Americans at least 65 years old. The U.S. government would automatically cover the costs for a bedrock of medical services.

It was called Medicare.

These days, when I speak on campuses about media coverage of healthcare policy options, I bring up current proposals for a “single payer” system — in effect, Medicare for Americans of all ages. Most students seem to think it’s a good idea. But once in a while, someone vocally objects that such an arrangement would be “socialism.”

The objection takes me back to the media uproar of early 1965. And it reminds me that ideological blinders have continued to constrict the national debate on realistic possibilities for developing a truly humane healthcare system.

In the current presidential campaign, none of the major candidates can be heard talking about Medicare for all. Instead, there’s plenty of nattering about whether “mandates” are a good idea. Hillary Clinton even had the audacity (not of hope but of duplicity) to equate proposed healthcare “mandates” to the must-pay-in requirements that sustain Social Security and Medicare.

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