New York City (JFK+50) Fifty-two years ago today, May 21, 1962, the American Medical Association, meeting at Madison Square Garden here in New York, came out in opposition to President John F. Kennedy's proposed medical care reforms.
The President spoke to a crowd of 20,000 gathered at the Garden the previous day in support of his proposed reforms. The President's Program of Medical Care for the Aged, which would have helped senior citizens pay their hospital bills, was to be funded, in part, by employee social security deductions.
President Kennedy had attempted to address the concerns about his program. JFK said...
"We do not cover doctors' bills...we do not affect the freedom of choice. You can go to any doctor you want (but)...we (do) talk about his hospital bill.
This bill serves the public interest. It involves the Government because it involves the public welfare."
JFK spoke about his father, Joseph P. Kennedy, Sr. who had suffered a major stroke in December 1961...
"I visited...the hospital where doctors labor for a long time...to visit my father. It isn't easy. He can pay his bills but otherwise I would be and I am not as well off as he is."
The President made clear that under the system in place in 1962, many Americans would have to bear the full burden of hospital bills run up by their elderly parents by either drawing from their own savings or through borrowing money.
Former First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt wrote....
"The AMA opposes this plan because everything that is different seems to these stand-pat gentlemen a step toward what they apparently dread more than anything....socialized medicine."
"John F. Kennedy's Address at a New York Rally in Support of the President's Program of Medical Care for the Aged, May 20, 1962," The American Presidency Project, www.presidency.ucsb.edu/