Lyndon Johnson on Health Care



1948: Suffered from kidney stone, but refused surgery

During his 1948 race for the Senate, Johnson was suffering from a kidney stone and kidney colic, an illness whose "agonizing" pain medical textbooks describe as "unbearable." His doctor said he didn't know "how in the world a man could keep functioning in the pain that he was in." But he kept functioning, smiling through speeches even though, in the car being driven to them, his driver often saw him doubled over in pain, shivering and gasping for breath. When, in the hospital, doctors told him that an operation to remove the stone was imperative--that with his fever, caused by infection, not abating, and the possibility of abscess and gangrene in the prognosis, his situation was becoming life-threatening--Johnson nevertheless refused to agree to one because the lengthy recovery time would end his hopes of winning the campaign, finally persuading surgeons to try to remove the stone by an alternative procedure that they were doubtful would work, but which in fact succeeded.
Source: Passage of Power, by Robert Caro, p. 47-48 , May 1, 2012

Signed Medicare bill to avoid family financial disasters

President Johnson was scheduled to sign the Medicaire bill on July 30, 1965. Johnson said, "No longer will older Americans be denied the healing miracle of modern medicine. No longer will illness crush and destroy the savings that they have so carefully put away over a lifetime so that they might enjoy dignity in their later years. No longer will young families see their own incomes, and their own hopes, eaten away simply because they are carrying out their deep moral obligations to their parents."
Source: Critical, by Tom Daschle, p. 62-63 , Feb 19, 2008

Advancing the Nation's Health: expand Medicare

The President sent to the Hill a special message entitled "Advancing the Nation's Health." Johnson had a favorite phrase for his administration. He was, he liked to say, "the education President and the health President."

These were the down-to-earth needs that came naturally. As a senator, he had opposed federal medical systems. But as President, Johnson's personal sentiment for a program like Medicare coincided with building national support.

Medicare had its expected enemies--conservatives and private insurance companies--but its serious problem was that peculiarly potent antagonist, the American Medical Association, which excoriated it as "socialized medicine."

Source: Tragedy of Lyndon Johnson, by Eric F. Goldman, p.285-286 , Mar 1, 1974

Child health program: prenatal care thru child's first year

Better health for our children--all of our children--is essential if we are to have a better America. American medicine--with the very strong support and cooperation of public resources-has produced a phenomenal decline in the death rate from many of the dread diseases. But it is a shocking fact that, in saving the lives of babies, America ranks 15th among the nations of the world. And among children, crippling defects are often discovered too late for any corrective action. This is a tragedy that Americans can, and Americans should, prevent.

I shall, therefore, propose a child health program to provide, over the next 5 years, for families unable to afford it--access to health services from prenatal care of the mother through the child's first year.

When we do that you will find it is the best investment we ever made because we will get these diseases in their infancy and we will find a cure in a great many instances that we can never find by overcrowding our hospitals when they are grown.

Source: Pres. Johnson's 1968 State of the Union message to Congress , Jan 17, 1968

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Other past presidents on Health Care: Lyndon Johnson on other issues:
Former Presidents:
Barack Obama(D,2009-2017)
George W. Bush(R,2001-2009)
Bill Clinton(D,1993-2001)
George Bush Sr.(R,1989-1993)
Ronald Reagan(R,1981-1989)
Jimmy Carter(D,1977-1981)
Gerald Ford(R,1974-1977)
Richard Nixon(R,1969-1974)
Lyndon Johnson(D,1963-1969)
John F. Kennedy(D,1961-1963)
Dwight Eisenhower(R,1953-1961)
Harry S Truman(D,1945-1953)

Past Vice Presidents:
V.P.Joseph Biden
V.P.Dick Cheney
V.P.Al Gore
V.P.Dan Quayle
Sen.Bob Dole

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Page last updated: Feb 22, 2022