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Presidential Statement of the Day

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Harry Truman, in a message to Congress, 19 May 1947:

National health insurance is the most effective single way to meet the Nation’s health needs. Because adequate treatment of many illnesses is expensive and its cost cannot be anticipated by the individual, many persons are forced to go without needed medical attention. Children do not receive adequate medical and dental care. Symptoms which should come early to the attention of a physician are often ignored until too late. The poor are not the only ones who cannot afford adequate medical care. The truth is that all except the rich may at some time be struck by illness which requires care and services they cannot afford. Countless families who are entirely self-supporting in every other respect cannot meet the expense of serious illness. . . .

A national health insurance program is a logical extension of the present social-security system which is so firmly entrenched in our American democracy. Of the four basic risks to the security of working people and their families–unemployment, old age, death and sickness–we have provided some insurance protection against three. Protection against the fourth–sickness–is the major missing element in our national social insurance program.

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