John F. Kennedy on Health Care



1949: Took "miracle drug," cortisone, for Addison's disease

While visiting his sister Kathleen in England, JFK fell so ill that he was rushed to a London hospital, where there was finally a definitive diagnosis: he had Addison's disease, an illness in which the adrenal glands fail--and that includes among its symptoms the nausea and vomiting, loss of appetite, inability to gain weight, fevers, chronic fatigue and yellow-brown coloring from which he had been suffering for years--and whose sufferers have a high mortality rate. But he recovered, with the help of new drugs that had been causing the mortality rate from Addison's to drop dramatically. In 1949, a new drug, cortisone, would prove to be a "miracle drug" for Addison's: thereafter, every 3 months, 150-mg pellets, 1st of cortisone and later of corticosteroid, were implanted in his thighs, & he took 25 mg orally every day; his weight became normal at last, and from that time on, the abdominal symptoms didn't bother him as much. Cortisone gave him, as a friend wrote, "a whole new lease on life."
Source: Passage of Power, by Robert Caro, p. 43-44 , May 1, 2012

Attempted unsuccessfully to create retirement-based Medicare

Of all his narrow losses, the most discouraging to him was the defeat of his "Medicare" bill--the long-sought plan enabling American working men and women to contribute to their own old-age health insurance program under Social Security instead of forcin them, once their jobs and savings were gone, to fall back on public or private charity. The cost of his own father's hospitalization made him all the more aware of how impossible it was for those less wealthy to bear such a burden. The Medicare bill was lost, and he went immediately on television to declare that this "most serious defeat for every American family" would be a key issue in the fall campaign. The 87th and 88th Congresses would in time pass more health care legislation than any two Congresses in history--including landmarks in mental health and mental retardation, medical schools, drug safety, hospital construction and air & water pollution--but the President never got over the disappointment of this defeat
Source: "Kennedy" by Ted Sorensen, p. 342-344 , Jan 1, 1965

Social Security can pay for good medical care for elderly

The proposal advanced by you and by Sen. Javits would have cost $600 million -- Gov. Rockefeller rejected it in New York, said he didn't agree with the financing at all, said it ought to be on Social Security. Let's look at bills that Vice President Nixon suggests were too extreme. One is medical care for the aged which is tied to Social Security, which is financed out of Social Security funds. It does not put a deficit on the Treasury.
Source: The First Kennedy-Nixon Presidential Debate , Sep 26, 1960

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Former Presidents:
Barack Obama(D,2009-2017)
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)

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V.P.Dan Quayle
Sen.Bob Dole

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Page last updated: Feb 22, 2022