- Overview -
"The health of our people is one of our nation's most
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
- Disease Prevention
- Medical Costs
FORD ADMINISTRATION HEALTH ACCOMPLISHMENTS
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
- First, the President proposed extending Medicare benefits
by providing coverage for unlimited days of hospital and
skilled nursing facility care for beneficiaries
- Second, he proposed to limit the out-of-pocket
expenses of beneficiaries, for covered services, to $500
per year for hospital and skilled nursing services and $250
per year for physician and other non-institutional
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
- Expansion of National Health Services Corps which
places health professionals in critical health manpower
- Improved coordination in the Federal financing programs (Social
Security Administration, Social and Rehabilitation
Service) with the resources, services, and research
programs (Public Health Service); and unification of
health policy development.
- Initiated coordination of rural health activities
funded by the National Health Services Corp, migrant
health program, community health center program and the
area health education center program to serve
individuals in rural areas.
- Strengthened program in nursing home improvement
in which the quality of life and care in skilled nursing
facilities is being improved through enforcement and new
standards, including patients' rights. A survey of almost
300 skilled nursing homes provided essential data on the
quality of care, and preliminary material is being
published and discussed with rpoviders [providers] and
- Improved coordination of child health activities,
to concentrate on health needs of children.
- Implementation of the Professional Standards Reveiw [Review]
Organization program (over half the country now covered
by PSROs), aimed at assuring quality and containing costs
- Increased availability of kidney dialysis and
transplant services (for person with end-stage renal
- Continued major investment in research on cancer and
- Building of comprehensive research plan for the field of
- Initiation of more research related to arthritis.
- Continued development of vaccine for hepatitis.
- Initiated the largest public health activity in U.S.
history with a program to immunize all Americans
against swine influenza and prevent a pandemic of
- Reversal of alarming trend toward lower levels of
protective immunization among U.S. children.
- Screening of 1,300,000 children at high risk from lead
poisoning, resulting in 85,000 of them with increased
lead absorption being subsequently placed under pediatric
management and 13,000 receiving hospital treatment.
- Continued successful disease surveillance (programs
unsurpassed anywhere in the world) of such killer
diseases as plague, yellow fever, cholera.
- Increased emphasis on health hazards of the workplace,
including more research on possible carcinogenic agents.
- Increased attention to Federal policies affecting
nutrition--The Public Health Services has developed a
comprehensive nutrition policy statement; published
proposed food nutritional labeling regulations to
uncrease [increase] consumers' ability to select a
nutritional and adequate diet; initiation of
nationwide (award-winning) consumer education program
on nutritional labels and their uses.
- Expansion in the review of over-the counter drugs for
safety and efficacy; improvement of warning labels on
cosmetics; further support legislation to strengthen Food
and Drug Administration review of medical devices.
- Continued attention to total costs, and rates of increase
in costs (at all-time highs) through the Summit
Conference on Inflation.
- Recommendation of new legislation and usage of existing
authorities to control the cost rise under Medicare and
- Continued emphasis on potential inflation impact of
- Controlling of governmental expenditures for drugs by
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'76 Fact Book
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the Gerald R. Ford Library