In 1943, legislators proposed a compulsory national health care plan. The measure met opposition almost immediately. It was referred to a subcommittee and entered a legislative limbo, having to be reintroduced again and again.
One of the bill’s authors was Michigan’s John Dingell, who represented the 15th Congressional district from 1933 to 1955. He was succeeded by his son, who has held this post from 1955 to today.
Now the longest-serving representative, John Dingell Jr. continues to promote his father’s Wagner-Murray-Dingell bill. Sixty-six years have elapsed, but the bill still lingers in committee, unable to move forward or to be killed. Other legislation has come and gone. The government has taken action on other issues, many of which were not as important.
We asked Dr. Benjamin Franklin why the government has not resolved the issue in over a half century of deliberation. The problem, he indicated, is that lawmakers like to work within familiar grounds. Radical change only comes when pressed by emergencies:
“Those who govern, having much business on their hands, do not generally like to take the trouble of considering and carrying into execution new projects. The best public measures are therefore seldom adopted from previous wisdom, but forced by the occasion.”