I’ve been doing a little research for an article I’m writing concerning the Good Health Plan effort in NC in the 1940s and early 50s. For those who don’t remember back that far, this was a response to NC’s abysmal draftee rejection rate of almost 50% for WWII – the worst in the nation for a while. The GHP included a state effort to encourage more people to sign up for Blue Cross, something I’ve written about before, as well as building Memorial Hospital in Chapel Hill and expanding the UNC medical and, eventually, dental schools into comprehensive programs creating fully trained doctors and dentists. Two disparate Franks – Sinatra and Porter Graham – both played roles and it was an altogether fascinating chapter in our history.
With the renewed interest in expanding health coverage among politicians – especially for kids (with the notable exception of the NC Senate), I thought it would be fun to remember some quotes on the same issue I’ve recently come across:
The ultimate purpose of this program should be that no person in North Carolina shall lack adequate hospital care or medical treatment by reason of poverty or low income.
— J. Melville Broughton, NC Governor, 1941-1945; US Senator, 1948-1949
I believe that an adequate medical examination, and care, should be provided for all the children in the State whose parents are not able to provide the same…it is my belief that where parents are unable to finance the cost of remedying childhood physical defects, the State should make provision for this remedial work to be done. Only less sacred that the right of a child to obtain an education is his right to get a fair chance of health in his youth.
— R. Gregg Cherry, NC Governor, 1945-1949
Appropriations for public health work should be increased until the state has [an] entirely adequate program for the prevention of disease, thus reducing needed hospital and medical care to the lowest practicable minimum.
— Clarence Poe, Chairman, NC Hospital and Medical Care Commission, 1945
There you have it – affordable coverage for everyone, examination and treatment for all kids, and focus on prevention to save money so we stop disease before we bear the expense of treating it. Today’s debate on healthcare could easily be taking place sixty years ago. What really impresses me were how ambitious these goals were for a pretty poor state looking at more years of lean funding in the aftermath of the Second World War. Leaders back then weren’t afraid to set hard goals for themselves and the people of the state.
With that thought I’ll end with one more quote that most folks know:
We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too.
— President John F. Kennedy, 1962