Health care reform: Presidents & History

PHILADELPHIA - September 9, 2009 This is hardly the first time health care reform has been in the spotlight.

Historian and the Dean of Temple University Ambler James Hilty says it's not the first time American's have not grasped a health plan.

Previous presidents have drawn plenty of controversy and criticism on the same topic; few, he says, remember the firestorm of controversy created when Medicare was passed by President Johnson in 1965.

"The ability to get Medicare through congress did require an awful lot of presidential energy, "Professor Hilty said.

President Bush met his own opposition when he added the prescription -drug benefit to Medicare.

"Adding the drug issue to Medicare was controversial largely because there was a great controversy over the actual cost," Hilty said.

Professor Hilty says no other president has faced Obama's challenge.

"The differences on health care reform are so diverse. I can't think of any president who's tackled a more difficult problem in this way. Bill Clinton tried in 1993 and failed," Hilty said.

Many thought President Clinton was doomed to a one term presidency when he failed to get a health care overhaul passed.

"Obama's got to find a very clever, direct, succinct, terse way of doing this so people can understand it," Hilty said.

Professor Hilty says if he doesn't, everything going forward will be even more difficult.

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