After reading the Washington Post article that looks back on the start up of Medicare in 1966, I googled “Udall and Medicare” to find documents I had come across a few years ago. The material from Tucson Congressman Morris Udall provides a view of the debate over Medicare in the 1960s.
In a 1962 newsletter, Congressman Udall shared comments he had received from Arizonans who were for and against Medicare:
Tucson doctor: "I have never had it brought to my attention that anyone suffered from lack of medical care because they were unable to pay for it."
Doctor's wife, Tucson: "I believe it would encourage the placing of our older citizens in institutions instead of encouraging them to remain active members of their community."
Doctor's wife, Tucson: "...will inevitably result in the overcrowding and overutilization of hospitals and nursing homes..."
Prescott housewife: "The aged people do not need this system of help, and it is just another way to take the individual's dignity away from him and make weaker people become captives to a dole system."
Tucson retiree: "The average retired middle-class person, who is the real backbone of the American way of life, cannot stand a major sickness without becoming a pauper. He deserves a greater freedom from fear in his later years."
Tempe man: "At 75 years of age my medical and hospital needs cannot be met out of meager savings and income. Insurance policies cancelled when I needed them most."
The 1962 document with more comments from Arizonans can be found here: http://www.library.arizona.edu/exhibits/udall/congrept/87th/620601.html
Congressman Udall’s 1965 report on Medicare is also an interesting read: http://www.library.arizona.edu/exhibits/udall/congrept/89th/650331.htm