Healthcare in early America  OCT 23 2009

In the early days of the United States (and even in the colonial days), there were struggles about how to handle healthcare. Was it the responsibility of the federal government, the state government, or the individual?

Health care in Colonial America looked nothing like what we'd consider medicine today, but the debates it triggered were similar. The danger of smallpox and the high cost of its prevention led to divisive questions about who should pay, whether everyone deserved equal access, and if responsibility lay at the feet of the individual, the state, or the nation. Epidemics forced the early republic to wrestle with the question of the federal government's proper role in regulating the nation's health.

A recent blog post by Roger Ebert shows that more than 200 years later, we're still having this same basic argument.

I am told we cannot trust the government. I believe we must trust it, and work to make it trustworthy. We are told the free enterprise system will sort things out, but it has not. When insurance companies direct millions toward lobbying and advertising against a health care system, every dollar is being withheld from sick people. When it goes to salaries, executive jets, corporate edifices and legislative manipulation, it isn't going to Amy Caudle.

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