Noting that only half of Americans age 65 and older have health insurance, President Johnson signs Medicare and Medicaid programs into law. The new programs, made part of Social Security, aim to reduce the number of elderly Americans living in poverty by providing a guaranteed level of health insurance to all older U.S. residents.
President Nixon considers a plan to offer universal health insurance from the government. The proposal is never officially unveiled as the Watergate scandal scuttles the president's second term agenda.
The Health Maintenance Organization Act establishes a baseline of benefit, administration, financial and contractual requirements for entities seeking designation as federally qualified HMOs.
The Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 creates uniform standards that employee benefit plans must follow to obtain and maintain their tax-favored status.
The Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act requires employers with 20 or more workers to offer partially subsidized health coverage to terminated employees and dependents for 18 months after the workers leave. The costs of the COBRA plan are set by the insurance company and employer.
With a general slowing of the economy, workers begin to lose jobs and health insurance. President George H.W. Bush proposes expanding health coverage by offering companies and lower-income workers tax credits. The plan fails, but sparks expanded debate about national health insurance.
President Clinton is elected with a promise to tackle the growing number of uninsured Americans. He pledges to introduce major legislation within 100 days of taking office and appoints first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton to lead the effort.
President Clinton's Health Security Act, the source of heated debate during its drafting, goes to the Democrat-controlled Congress in September. Debate rages for nearly a year with private health insurers, pharmaceutical companies and small businesses fighting to derail the plan. Democratic leaders cannot agree on the plan either and by the summer of 1994 the plan is shelved. The failure to pass any health plan is partially blamed for the massive Democratic losses that fall that give the GOP control of both the House and Senate.
Sources: Employee Benefit Research Institute, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, wire services