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Harry Truman’s Words On Health Care Still Ring True

November 19, 2009

After decades of national debate it will be the Democrats who close the deal on health care for the nation.  The first key procedural vote will take place this Saturday evening in the United States Senate.  Yesterday Senate Majority Leader Reid commented on the status of the bill, and the decades of work to get to this point.

“I want to take just a moment to appreciate how far we have come,” Mr. Reid said after entering the room to cheers and applause.

“This bill is not just a milestone along a journey of a few months or even a few years,” he said. We have been working to reform health care since the first half of the last century. As the Senate heads down this home stretch, I am going to read just a short piece of a long letter by a former senator about the urgency of action on health care. This man wrote to Congress and I quote: ‘Millions of our citizens do not now have a full measure of opportunity to achieve and enjoy good health. Millions do not now have protection or security against the economic effects of sickness. The time has arrived for action to help them attain the opportunity and that protection.’

He went on to write, this former senator, ‘People with low or moderate incomes do not get the same medical attention as those with high incomes. The poor have more sickness but they get less medical care.’ He went on to say, ‘We should resolve now that the health of this nation is a national concern, that financial barriers in the way of attaining health shall be removed, that is the health of all its citizens deserve the help of all the nation.’

“That former senator was Harry Truman,” Mr. Reid said. “And he wrote that letter to Congress on November 19, 1945, just months into his presidency and exactly 64 years ago today. He knew that the health of the American people was linked to the health of the economy. Way back then he knew that.”

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