Posts Tagged ‘Franklin Delano Roosevelt’

Kaiser Permanente as a National Model for Care

posted on July 22, 2015

Lincoln Cushing
Heritage writer

 

Third in a series on Kaiser Permanente’s 70th anniversary

Microsoft Word - National Health Care Proposal 1945

Cover, “Proposal for a Nation-Wide Pre-Paid Medical Plan Based on Experience of the Permanente Foundation Hospitals,” March 3, 1945

At the end of World War II the huge challenge of civilian social services was being reviewed at the highest levels of government. When Harry S. Truman took office in 1945, following the death of President Roosevelt, he did so as a supporter of national health insurance. President Truman made this plea in a speech to Congress on May 19, 1945:

Healthy citizens constitute our greatest national resource. In time of peace, as in time of war, our ultimate strength stems from the vigor of our people. The welfare and security of our nation demand that the opportunity for good health be made available to all, regardless of residence, race or economic status.

At no time can we afford to lose the productive energies and capacities of millions of our citizens. Nor can we permit our children to grow up without a fair chance of survival and a fair chance for a healthy life. We must not permit our rural families to suffer for lack of physicians, dentists, nurses and hospitals. We must not reserve a chance for good health and a long productive life to the well-to-do alone. A great and free nation should bring good health care within the reach of all its people.

Such sentiments were not only echoed by Henry J. Kaiser, he believed that he could contribute to the dialogue. The World War II Permanente Health Plan was so efficient and effective that Kaiser proposed it as a model for national health care. His “Proposal for a Nation-Wide Pre-Paid Medical Plan Based on Experience of the Permanente Foundation Hospitals” dated March 3, 1945, began with this bold statement:

It is maintained that the greatest service that can be done for the American people is to provide a nation-wide prepaid health plan that will guard these people against the tragedy of unpredictable and disastrous hospital and medical bills, and that will, in consequence, emphasize preventive instead of curative medicine, thereby improving the state of the nation’s health.

"Health Insurance Fact Sheet," 4/28/1947; courtesy Truman Presidential Library

“Health Insurance Fact Sheet” outlining national problems 4/28/1947; courtesy Truman Presidential Library

The San Francisco Chronicle reported on July 20, 1945 that a Senate subcommittee was considering Kaiser’s plan for a volunteer health insurance system to be created through government financing, permitting establishment of voluntary systems for national prepaid medical care through facilities of the Federal Housing Agency. Legislation legalizing the plan was prepared by Kaiser for introduction in Congress by Senator Claude Pepper (D., Fla.).

The bill was an outgrowth of Kaiser’s experience in providing group health insurance to 125,000 employees monthly through the Kaiser Permanente Foundation. Sen. Pepper’s legislation and support for what would become the National Health Insurance Act of 1949 (Senate Bill 1679) was strongly supported by President Truman.

However, Truman’s proposal was immediately attacked by conservative groups, including the American Medical Association. The JAMA editorial on May 7, 1949 put forward their position:

Obviously the propaganda agencies that are devoted to the cause of compulsory sickness insurance provided the thought, if not the language, for President Truman’s address. Here are many of the same old misrepresentations that have characterized their previous statements on this subject. Lacking only is reference to the “socialization of medicine;” apparently the proponents of nationalized political medical care have learned that the American people are exceedingly distrustful of socialism. No doubt the most important objection to medicine socialized by nationalization of its control is the well-established fact that the taking over of medicine is but the first step toward nationalization of every interest and activity of the nation.

Truman’s plan failed to win enough support to pass, and Kaiser withdrew from the national health debate. It would not, however, be the last time that Kaiser Permanente would be part of the national dialogue around best practices in health care.

 

Short link to this article: http://k-p.li/1TQqHC5 

 

 

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Two historical reflections on Kaiser Permanente

posted on April 24, 2015
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Dr. Sidney Garfield during a moment of relaxation at Contractors General Hospital, Mojave Desert, circa 1934

Lincoln Cushing
Heritage writer

On April 24, 1997 – 18 years ago today – Kaiser Permanente and the AFL-CIO announced a groundbreaking nationwide pact that acknowledged the importance of partnering with labor unions.

John Sweeney, president of the AFL-CIO, praised the agreement:

“It is my hope that together we can fully realize the vision our predecessors had when Kaiser was originally founded in the 1940s – an affordable, high-quality health plan for working families.”

The next year, historian Doris Kearns Goodwin, author of the acclaimed 1994 title No Ordinary Time – Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt: The Home Front in World War II, echoed Sweeney’s homage to Kaiser Permanente’s long term impact when she summed up the contributions of Kaiser Permanente’s founding physician Dr. Sidney Garfield and his colleagues during a 1998 talk in Oakland, Calif.:

“It was in the midst of that crisis that Garfield and company, through the twin ideas of prepayment and group (medical) practice, created a whole new system for the delivery of health care that would restructure the traditional relationship of the American people to their doctors – just as surely as Roosevelt’s New Deal, also created in crisis, restructured the traditional relationship of the American people to their government…

They succeeded against all odds because of a passionate belief in what they were doing and a commitment to one another, a spirit of innovation, and a sense of mission.”

Today, both The Kaiser Permanente Labor Management Partnership (“The largest and most successful in the country,” according to Jim Pruitt, vice president of LMP) and the Kaiser Permanente Health Plan continue to make history.

 

Short link to this story: http://k-p.li/1DYIMGU

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Shhhh! Franklin D. Roosevelt visits Kaiser Shipyard

posted on September 23, 2014

Lincoln Cushing
Heritage writer

In late summer of 1942 president Franklin Delano Roosevelt took a “stealth” coast-to-coast tour of wartime America. The trip was to

[l to r] Oregon Governor Charles Sprague, Henry J. Kaiser, Edgar F. Kaiser, Franklin D. Roosevelt; 9/23/1942

Watching the launch of the S.S. Joseph N. Teal – [l to r] Oregon Governor Charles Sprague, Henry J. Kaiser, Edgar F. Kaiser, Franklin D. Roosevelt; 9/23/1942

be entirely off the record, with no press coverage until he’d returned to Washington, D.C. He departed by train September 17, and along the way he inspected tank factories in Michigan and ammunition plants in Minnesota.

On September 23, 1942, he visited the Kaiser Oregon Shipbuilding shipyard in St. Johns, Oregon, near Portland. He proudly observed his daughter Anna (Mrs. John Boettiger) launch the Liberty-class S.S. Joseph N. Teal, a ship built in a remarkably short 10 days.

Pressed by the crowd of 14,000 eager workers, FDR said some words from his seat in the front of his convertible limousine. FDR’s last personal secretary, Grace Tully, captured his impromptu speech:

“I have been very much inspired by what I have seen and I wish that every man, woman and child in the United States could have been here today to see that launching and realize what it means in the winning of this war.

You know I am not supposed to be here today (laughter) (the crowd really went wild), so you are the possessors of a secret which even the newspapers of the United states don’t know, and I hope you will keep the secret because I am under military and naval orders, and like the ship that we have just seen go overboard, my motions and movements are supposed to be secret. I do not know whether they are or not.

You are doing a wonderful piece of work for your country and for our civilization, and with the help of God we are going to, see this thing through together.”

 And we did.

 

Also see related stories “Eleanor Roosevelt visits the Kaiser Shipyards and Hospital” and
Typist bounces with the Kaisers to New York, Northwest and back.”

Short link to this story: http://bit.ly/1B3APwi 

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Typist bounces with the Kaisers to New York, Northwest and back

posted on April 11, 2013

By Steve Gilford, Senior Consulting Historian

First of two parts

Anne Ferreira went to work for Henry J. Kaiser in Oakland in 1939. Photo courtesy of Jill Suico.

Anne Ferreira, a 27-year-old native of Oakland, Calif., and a rapid typist, took a secretarial job in 1939 at the Henry J. Kaiser Co., an enterprise that was just beginning to take off.

Little did she imagine that 52 years later she would be looking back on a career with the Kaiser Companies that took her to New York City in 1941, to wartime shipyards in St, Johns, Ore. (near Portland), where she met President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1942, and back to Oakland in 1945 where she became the administrative go-to person at the iconic 28-story Kaiser Center, built in 1959.

Anne married Raymond Ferreira, another Oakland native, in 1938. Ray worked for Pan American Airways as a paymaster, and in 1941 he was transferred to New York City. Anne left her job to go east with Ray and landed a job in the Kaiser Companies’ New York office.

Before the couple could get settled, world events intervened and Henry Kaiser’s son Edgar asked for Ray’s help in urgently mustering a wartime workforce to fulfill Kaiser’s contracts to build hundreds of ships on the West Coast.

On Sept. 23, 1942, Ray Ferreira took on the shepherding of 510 newly hired shipyard workers from Hoboken, N.J., to Kaiser shipyards in Vancouver, Wash. Ferreira was in charge of the first “Kaiser Special” or “Kaiser Karavan” that fed the east-to-west migration that would irrevocably alter the nation’s demographics.

On that exact date, Ray’s wife Anne, already working in the Oregon Shipbuilding Corporation office, was taken by surprise when she heard workers shouting that President Roosevelt had arrived. She ran out of the office to join the crowd gathering to see FDR ride by in a white convertible with Secret Service men in suits, hats and trench coats running alongside.

President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Henry and Edgar Kaiser and Oregon Governor Charles Sprague take a ride through the Kaiser shipyard in 1942.

The beloved wartime president was six days into his unpublicized national tour of wartime production sites when he cruised into the shipyard for the launching of the SS Joseph Teal, a Liberty Ship built in a then-astonishing 10 days. His daughter, Anna, wife of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer publisher John Boettiger, was there to christen the Teal.

Shipyard construction crews had adequately prepared for the president’s visit with a special platform with an automobile ramp erected opposite the launching site. Crippled by polio, Roosevelt could view the festivities from his seat in the limousine. He watched as his daughter crashed a champagne bottle on the bow of the Joseph Teal.

Much to Anne’s amazement, while she was standing among the spectators, Henry Kaiser spotted her and shouted to her to come down to the President’s car. He signaled the guards to let her through the security barriers and alongside FDR’s entourage.

Kaiser, son Edgar, and Oregon Governor Charles Sprague were seated in the President’s limousine talking away and greeting notables along the way. When Anne, “Annie” as Kaiser knew her, reached the convertible, the industrialist introduced her to President Roosevelt who chatted with her a bit, mostly about how she liked working for Henry Kaiser.

Ray and Anne Ferreira, both natives of Oakland, Calif., worked for the Kaisers at the Vancouver Shipyard during World War II. Photo courtesy of Jill Suico.

Recently, after Anne’s death at age 98 in December 2012, her daughter, Jill Suico, summarized her mother’s lifelong affection for the Kaisers, especially Henry: “She loved the man; she loved the company; and she loved her job.”

Over the decades, Anne had many bosses within the Kaiser Companies, including Kaiser Aluminum President Cornell Maier and Dick Spees, public affairs officer for Kaiser Aluminum for 31 years, who was elected to the Oakland City Council in 1979. Anne played the role of Snoopy at the Kaiser Aluminum’s “Salute the A’s Night” in 1980 at the Oakland Coliseum and posed with Maier for an Oakland Tribune photograph.

She was an active critic of Oakland city government, and through the years chided officials for unsafe streets, untidy neighborhoods and at one point urged the addition of a spruce tree to the Oakland city logo, next to the symbol of a mighty oak tree. She pushed that campaign – to no avail – with the donation of 50 spruce trees to the city, trees that had been part of the Kaiser Center landscape.

When Anne retired in 1983, Vice Mayor Dick Spees and the Oakland City Council declared June 15 Anne Ferreira day of appreciation and presented a tongue-in-cheek certificate that read in part: “Anne . . . is duly recognized for her sage advice and persistent admonitions to (the city) to clean its streets, put its youth to work . . . and generally get its act together.”

After her official retirement, Anne returned to Kaiser Aluminum as a contractor filling in for vacationing staffers and coordinating a community service program. She finally retired at age 77 in 1991. In 2009, Anne was honored as the oldest Kaiser Aluminum retiree at age 95.

Next time: More about Anne and Ray Ferreira’s wartime experiences.

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