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Ronald Reagan on Health Care

President of the U.S., 1981-1989; Republican Governor (CA)


Announces his Alzheimer’s, to promote public understanding

My fellow Americans:

I have recently been told that I am one of the millions of Americans who will be afflicted with Alzheimer’s Disease.

In the past, Nancy suffered from breast cancer and I had my surgeries. We found through our open discussions we were able to raise public awareness. We were happy that, as a result, many more people underwent testing.

So now, we feel it is important to share it with you. Perhaps it will encourage a clearer understanding of the individuals and families who are afflicted by it.

At the moment I feel just fine. I intend to live the remainder of the years that God gives me on this earth doing the things I have always done.

In closing, let me thank you, the American people, for giving me the great honor of allowing me to serve as your President. I now begin the journey that will lead me to the sunset of my life. I know that for America there will always be a bright dawn ahead.

Thank you, my friends. May God always bless you.

Source: Dutch, by Edmund Morris, p. 665-66 , Nov 5, 1994

Despite accusations, didn’t much cut Medicare

[In the 1984 presidential debates, Walter Mondale reminded Reagan that] “when President Carter said tat you were going to cut Medicare, you said, ‘Oh no, there you go again, Mr. President.’ And what did you do right after the election? You went out and tried to cut $20 billion out of Medicare. So when you say, ‘There you go again,’ people remember this.”

This was perhaps the least factual passage in the entire Mondale presentation. Reagan had barely touched Medicare in the 1981 budget cuts. He had four years later proposed Medicare restraints on hospitals and doctors that were, as an otherwise pro-Mondale editorial in the Washington Post noted, “not all that different from the Carter administration’s.” But Reagan had been thrown on the defensive and he looked it.

Source: The Role of a Lifetime, by Lou Cannon, p. 541-42 , Jul 2, 1991

Slow to fight AIDS; focused on prevention

Reagan’s presidency coincided with the emergence of the AIDS epidemic. Reagan’s response to this epidemic was halting and ineffective. In the critical years of 1984 and 1985, according to his White House physician Dr. John Hutton, Reagan thought of AIDS as though “it was measles and would go away.” What changed Reagan’s view was the death in October 1985 of his friend Rock Hudson.

Reagan went to Dr. Hutton and questioned him about the disease. Hutton gave a lengthy explanation. “I always thought the world would end in a flash, but this is worse,“ Reagan said. Even with his new knowledge, Reagan was slow to join the battle against AIDS. He did not mention AIDS in public again until Feb. 1986, when he announced that a major report on AIDS would be prepared, saying, ”We’re going to focus on prevention.“ Reagan’s surgeon general C. Everett released the report in Oct. 1986, and described his remedy: ”One, abstinence; two, monogamy; three; condoms.“

Source: The Role of a Lifetime, by Lou Cannon, p. 813-15 , Jul 2, 1991

Viewed AIDS biblically, like sins of sex & abortion

Reagan would remain unconcerned by AIDS at least until the death of Rock Hudson in 1985. My research has him finding it a fit subject for humor as late as 1986 and five months after that waxing biblical in his opinion that “maybe the Lord brought down this plague” because “illicit sex is against the Ten Commandments.”

To be fair, he made no moral distinction between homosexuality, heterosexuality out of wedlock, or abortion on demand. All three were abhorred by God, in his opinion. The best that could be said about the first sin was that its consequence was perhaps a caution against the other two:

“I think people were happier and better off when there wasn’t the tremendous plague of single motherhood cases or abortions, the thousands & thousands & thousands that take place regularly now and whether it’s going to take such a tragic thing as that disease. that horrible disease to return us to a sense of values that were very much a part of our generation.”

Source: Dutch, by Edmund Morris, p.457-458 , Dec 1, 1986

Protect handicapped newborns as a civil right

In the Baby Doe case in Indiana, the issue was whether to protect the life of a human being who had Down's Syndrome, who needed a routine surgical procedure to unblock his esophagus and allow him to eat. A doctor testified to the presiding judge that, even with his physical problem corrected, Baby Doe would have a "non-existent" possibility for "a minimally adequate quality of life"--in other words, that retardation was the equivalent of a crime deserving the death penalty. The judge let Baby Doe starve and die, and the Indiana Supreme Court sanctioned his decision.

Federal law does not allow federally-assisted hospitals to decide that Down's Syndrome infants are not worth treating, much less to starve them to death. Accordingly, I have directed [federal agencies] to apply civil rights regulations to protect handicapped newborns. All hospitals receiving federal funds must post notices which will clearly state that failure to feed handicapped babies is prohibited by federal law.

Source: Abortion and the Conscience of a Nation, p. 15 , Jan 1, 1984

Waste & fraud permeate every area of Medicare & Medicaid

Today we face the absurd situation of a Federal budget with 3/4 of its expenditures routinely referred to as "uncontrollable." And a large part of this goes to entitlement programs.

Committee after committee of this Congress has heard witness after witness describe many of these programs as poorly administered and rife with waste and fraud. One example is Medicare and Medicaid--programs with worthy goals but whose costs have increased from $11 billion to almost $60 billion, more than 5 times as much, in just 10 years.

Waste and fraud are serious problems. Back in 1980 Federal investigators testified before one of your committees that "corruption has permeated virtually every area of the Medicare and Medicaid health care industry."

The time has come to control the uncontrollable. In August we made a start. I signed a bill to reduce the growth of these programs by $44 billion over the next 3 years while at the same time preserving essential services for the truly needy.

Source: Pres. Reagan's 1982 State of the Union message to Congress , Jan 26, 1982

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Other past presidents on Health Care: Ronald Reagan on other issues:
Former Presidents:
George W. Bush(R,2001-2009)
Bill Clinton(D,1993-2001)
George Bush Sr.(R,1989-1993)
Ronald Reagan(R,1981-1989)
Jimmy Carter(D,1977-1981)
Gerald Ford(R,1974-1977)
Richard Nixon(R,1969-1974)
Lyndon Johnson(D,1963-1969)
John F. Kennedy(D,1961-1963)
Dwight Eisenhower(R,1953-1961)
Harry S Truman(D,1945-1953)

Past Vice Presidents:
V.P.Dick Cheney
V.P.Al Gore
V.P.Dan Quayle
Sen.Bob Dole
V.P.Walter Mondale

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Page last updated: Mar 16, 2014