Starting with Richard Nixon in 1970, presidents have offered successive plans for covering the nation's uninsured, but they have have stalled for different reasons.
In 1974, Nixon put forward a plan to cover all Americans through private insurance, only to have the Watergate scandal force him out of office. An economic crisis prevented Jimmy Carter from pushing forward with a national health plan. Congress late in Reagan's second term attempted to expand Medicare, only to have the law repealed the following year. Bill Clinton had a 1,300-page health care reform bill that was never even taken up for a vote in Congress.
Since Nixon's presidency, health care costs have continued to rise, often outpacing inflation. This increase is due to a number of factors, including the increased use of new medical technologies for diagnosis and treatment.
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act signed by President Barack Obama was intended to cover the 30 million Americans who live without health insurance, according to the bill's authors. It has been the most far-reaching piece of health care legislation since Johnson's signed the legislation creating the Medicare and Medicaid health care programs.
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