The Public Health Care Experiment in the 1950s

(11:00AM EST – promoted by Nightprowlkitty)

We once had a Public Health Care Program.

It was in the 50s.

We needed it because our children were dying. And those that didn’t die were often disfigured and horribly crippled.

And it affected rich and poor alike. Those with and without insurance, jobs, and money.

In fact, it is still a threat in the third world.

As you can tell, that Health Care Program was a failure….because nobody remembers.

It was Polio, Infantile Paralysis.

It became important because Franklin Delano Roosevelt made it his cause celebre. The March of Dimes was founded and school children around the nation gave their dimes to fight Polio. Dr. Jonas Salk created a vaccine in his laboratory with those dimes and the government sponsored a nation-wide inoculataion program. School children lined up in their schools and were administered the vaccine.

It failed because…when was the last time you met someone with Polio?

When was the last time you worked with a person who had polio? When was the last time you worried about taking your kids to the beach where they might become infected by Polio? When was the last time your summer vacation was marred by the names of kids from your neighborhood who contracted Polio were listed in the paper? When was the last time you held the limp, withered legs of child stricken with Polio?

That’s right. The victims of Polio don’t exist in the US today. Nor do you find them in Europe or most of our vacation spots. And, if you did go somewhere and knew that Polio was rampant, would you worry? No. Of course not. You had your inoculations. You are immune. You had your two drops of OVP( sometimes called the Sabin Vaccine)

The WHO says there are over a million survivors of Polio in the US today. Most from the non-paralytic variety. Between 1937 and 1997 there were 457,088 cases of paralytic polio reported in the US. In 1996 there were 5 cases. In 1997, 3 cases. Between 1999 and 2006 there was one confirmed case and 1 case of non-paralytic Polio. World-wide there were 784 cases reported in 2003.

Today, only four areas of the world have endemic Polio cases.

Northern India

Northern Nigeria


Border regions between Afghanistan and Pakistan

This is what the world has done with government intervention and a world community public option.

784 cases

As opposed to millions.

Imagine what could be done for Heart Disease.

Imagine what could be done for AIDS.

Imagine what could be done for any number of scourges.

We did it for Polio.

We did it for Rickets.

We can do it. It has been Done.

We need Public Health Care.  We need it now.

We need it for all the children.

Recommended Books to read:

Living With Polio, by Daniel J. Wilson

A Summer Plague, by Tony Gould

In the Shadow of Polio, by Kathryn Black

Or you can read about my mother: here

And check out:

We are the “Greatest” country in the world, our people and their children deserve better.


    • Temmoku on June 18, 2009 at 21:47

    It is our only option!

  1. a right a necessity. How sad when peoples lives are less important than profit. Why is extortion from the unholy alliance of the insurance industry and the medical/drug companies even being appeased. Heath care for profit is an oxymoron. In the 50’s we also had public utilities, resources that are necessary for life should be owned by the public. Why should we be forced to pay the vig to the corporations whose main mission is profit not health.    

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