“The cause of my life,” he said, was health care ensured for all Americans.
His health care legislative passion began in 1966 as he learned about the challenges facing Boston residents in public housing and their lack of access to health care. These residents were meant to receive health care at the city’s teaching hospitals, which were located some four miles away from the housing project. This distance and the logistics within the hospitals and clinics took some of the residents many hours to access care.
Since then, there’s a long list of health care legislation that Senator Kennedy shepherded into law; here is but a sample:
Money for AIDS research
Ryan White (CARE) Act
School milk programs
Mammography quality standards
Family and Medical Leave Act
Children’s health insurance
Community health centers
Nutrition for pregnant women and children
Biomedical research funding
Americans with Disabilities Act
Prescription drug plan for Medicare (Part D)
Meals on Wheels
Education for all handicapped children
The WARN Act for assistive technology
Minority Health and Health Disparities Research and Education Act
Of course, the Senator also fought for other areas of social justice and civil rights, from immigration to voting rights and Title 9, which extended sports equality to women.
Health Populi’s Hot Points: There isn’t an American today who hasn’t benefited from Senator Kennedy’s sponsored programs. His passing marks a major milestone for Baby Boomers like me who grew up on and benefited from the Kennedy Family’s commitment to public service and Getting Things Done to benefit Americans.
One year ago, the Senator told the Democratic Presidential convention, “And this is the cause of my life: new hope that we will break the old gridlock and guarantee that every American – north, south, east, west, young, old – will have decent, quality health care as a fundamental right and not as a privilege.”
It’s been 30 years since Senator Kennedy passionately invoked the vision of Universal Health Care for Americans. With all of the above-named legislation, while a rich patchwork of health policy, there remain 50 million Americans without health insurance.