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By Susan Dudley Gold

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These workers paid groups of local doctors a set fee each month in return for medical care. The irst Blue Shield plan began in California in 1939 and became widespread in the late 1940s. Doctors accepted the group plan in part as a way to stall support for a government-sponsored health insurance program. Like the hospitals’ Blue Cross program, Blue Shield operated as a nonpro it with exemptions from certain tax and regulatory requirements. COMMITTEE ON THE COST OF MEDICAL CARE Despite growing concern over rising medical costs, the AMA passed a resolution in 1920 to oppose any health insurance program run by the government.

To address these needs, he called for the establishment of a new cabinet-level Department of Health, Education, and Welfare to focus on health issues. In addition, Eisenhower proposed more funding for the National Institutes of Health and other health-oriented research programs, stronger public health programs, and construction of new hospitals. The centerpiece of Eisenhower’s plan was based on what he called reinsurance, a system to increase the number of Americans covered by private insurance.

For the irst time in the decades-long battle for health insurance, a group of Americans made enough noise and conducted large enough protests to gain the full attention of Congress. Both the AHA and insurance companies saw the need for government help in paying for medical care for elderly Americans. Because of an increased risk of health problems, older citizens had higher medical bills, which hospitals often had to cover and which left private insurers with little or no pro it on their policies.

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