In November 1945, President Harry Truman proposed establishing a federal health insurance program for all Americans -- essentially single-payer government insurance similar to what Sen. Bernie Sanders is proposing today. Shortly thereafter, Gallup found 59% of Americans who were familiar with Truman's proposal saying they favored the plan. By March 1949, however, support had fallen to 38%. It then dropped to 33% in November and to 24% by October 1950.
In 1949, between 43% and 45% of Americans familiar with the plan were aware that it would be paid for through new payroll taxes. The rest were mostly unsure of how it would be funded.
The plan's ultimate demise may be better explained by the results to a different question Gallup posed to the "familiar" group in March 1949: "Do you happen to know whether doctors of the country, in general, are for or against President Truman's plan for compulsory health insurance?" Seventy percent said doctors were against it.
And, in the same 1949 poll, Americans were asked to choose between Truman's plan for government insurance paid for through new taxes and the American Medical Association's plan. That plan relied on an expansion of private health insurance, with medical care for the poor funded by federal aid to the states. Americans backed the AMA's plan over Truman's, 47% to 33%.
|March 6-11, 1949%|
|Truman administration plan||33|
|American Medical Association plan||47|
|Based on those familiar with Truman's plan (56% of U.S. adults)|
In fact, the Truman Library and others identify the AMA's fierce opposition to the Truman plan -- calling it "socialized medicine" -- as the main reason for the plan's demise. It was about this time that Republicans launched their 1950 midterm election campaign slogan, "Liberty Versus Socialism."
These data can be found in Gallup Analytics.
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