American Social and Political Thought and the Federal Role in Child Health Care

  • Todd L. Savitt
Part of the Philosophy and Medicine book series (PHME, volume 33)


The twentieth-century history of federal involvement in children’s health affairs has followed an interesting pattern: from little concern to deep commitment and then to reluctant participation. Ann Wilson has shown how between 1906 and 1912 Theodore Roosevelt’s administration prodded Congress to establish a Children’s Bureau to determine children’s and parents’ medical and other needs; how Congress backed away from that commitment in the 1920s; how, during the Depression of the 1930s, President Franklin Roosevelt and Congress joined together to pass social legislation to help those in need, including children; and how the current Reagan administration, despite such actions as the “Baby Doe” regulations, has sought to reduce federal involvement in health care financing, Congress’ wishes notwithstanding [5]. Though the three presidents mentioned — Theodore and Franklin Roosevelt, and Ronald Reagan — engineered these changes in government policy, they did not act in a vacuum. The general mood of the country, economic conditions, and political philosophy all played a role. To some extent, the medical profession also influenced public policy in this area.


American Physician Political Thought Child Health CARE Reagan Administration AMERICAN Social 
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  1. 1.
    Numbers, R. L.: 1978, Almost Persuaded: American Physicians and Compulsory Health Insurance, 1912–1920, Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Rothstein, W. G.: 1972, American Physicians in the Nineteenth Century, From Sects to Science, Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Starfield, B.: 1989, ‘Child Health and Public Policy’, in this volume, pp. 7–22.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Wiebe, R. H.: 1967, The Search for Order, 1877–1920, Hill and Wang, New York.Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Wilson, A.: 1989, ‘The U.S. Federal Role in Child Health Care: A Historical Perspective’, in this volume, pp. 27–66.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1989

Authors and Affiliations

  • Todd L. Savitt
    • 1
  1. 1.East Carolina University School of MedicineGreenville

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