This morning, Celeste Headlee Tweeted:
She was referring to this Reuters story about what a mess Social Security and Medicare were at first:
Social Security, that now beloved centerpiece of the nation’s social safety net, offers a case in point. Created in 1935, the program took 40 years just to include all working Americans in its basic coverage. When the old-age insurance program launched in 1937, barely more than half the labor force participated….
Social Security’s first baby steps proved especially uncertain. Of course, opponents denounced the pension plan as the leading wedge of a socialist revolution….
But it was not just dissident conservatives who issued ideological censure. Even friendly critics disparaged the program for its incompetent personnel, confusing procedures and widespread abuses. One watchdog group particularly disapproved the rapid hiring of thousands of untrained, ill-qualified workers to staff the program….
Similar uncertainty marred the introduction of Medicare. When the health insurance program went on the books in 1965, the federal government already possessed a Social Security administration to run it with three decades of experience in the business of social insurance.
Still, the complexity of the new program made its rollout a lengthy, contentious process. Federal officials had to negotiate with a wide variety of providers (nursing homes, hospitals, insurance companies), deal with a largely uncooperative American Medical Association, and coordinate with 50 state governments….
And so forth. Yet somehow, the nation survived it all…