"Give 'em hell Harry" on health care reform

58-486Harry Truman is my favorite President. Some people read the Bible for inspiration. I read “Plain Speakng”, and Truman’s words speak to me.

I never realized until recently just how much Truman cared about health care for the average American. In 1945, he proposed a major health care plan that would have created  national health insurance. The AMA went berserk. They called it “socialized medicine” (a nasty smear in the early days of the Cold War) .

So Obama’s struggle isn’t new, nor was Clinton’s. We’ve been fighting the same battle for more than 50 years. Truman would have understood. One of his favorite sayings was, “The only thing new in this world is the history you don’t know.”

Some Truman quotes from “Talking with Harry: Candid Conversations with President Harry S. Truman“:

  • “The cost and expense for the ordinary person to get the proper treatments for his physical well-being is beyond the reach of the people in the middle income brackets. The very rich can get them. The very poor are taken care of by the welfare organizations. But the man in the middle, who is the greatest taxpayer of the whole outfit, can’t meet the situation when his family gets in a position where it has to go to the hospital and stay there.”
  • “They have invented all these various things to make people live longer and to make them easier to get well when they’re sick. But they’ve made it so expensive with hospitals’ and doctors’ charges. The American Medical Association was absolutely against a program to set up a situation where people could make a saving, and they have to be forced to make these savings, so they could pay their hospital bills and their doctors’ bills. And they called that ‘socialized medicine.”
  • [on why Americans need national  health insurance] “Because they don’t want to pay the bill when it comes due. They all love the doctor when they’re sick, but when they get well, to hell with him.”
  • [on convincing the public on health care reform] “Just keep working at it, keep working at it, and finally when the vast majority of the people understand exactly what they are entitled to and what they ought to have, then we won’t have any trouble putting it over.”
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