- Overview -

"The health of our people is one of our nation's most vital resources."

President Ford
February 26, 1976

Significant progress has been made in improving the health of the Nation's people during the last 25 years, as can be seen in the continued reductions in the infant mortality rate; increases in life expectancy, and the conquering of some communicable diseases. This progress has come under a largely private health care system with the support of public funds.

In the past 10 year period (1965-1975) Federal spending for health has increased from $5 billion to $37 billion. With greater Federal funding has come a multitude of Federal programs, regulations and restrictions--all motivated by the best of intentions but each adding to the confusion and overlap and inequity that now characterizes our efforts at the national level.

To resolve these problems, President Ford recently asked the Congress to enact the Financial Assistance for Health Care Act which will consolidate Medicaid and categorical Federal health programs into a $10 billion block grant to the States. The President proposed that future Federal funding for this new program be increased annually in increments of $500 million plus the amounts needed after 1980 to ensure that no State will in the future receive less under this proposal than it received in Fiscal year 1976.

This comprehensive block grant proposal, discussed in the following pages, was only the most recent of a great number of actions taken by President Ford over the last year and a half. His other initiatives and accomplishments have fallen into six main categories of health care:


Health Care for Older Americans

In his recent State of the Union Message, President Ford proposed protection against catastrophic health expenditures for Medicare beneficiaries. This will be accomplished in two ways:

This will mean that each year over a billion dollars of benefit payments will be targeted for handling the financial burden of prolonged illness. Millions of older persons live in fear of being stricken by an illness that will call for expensive hospital and medical care over a long period of time. Most often they do not have the resources to pay the bills. The members of their families share their fears because they also do not have the resources to pay such large bills. The President summarizes his concerns this way:

"We have been talking about this problem for many years. We have it within our power to act now so that today's older persons will not be forced to live under this kind of a shadow. I urge the Congress to act promptly."

Resources and Planning


Medical Research

Disease Prevention

Medical Costs

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