Notable Dates in the History of Healthcare Policy in the United States


We think we know what the future holds for health care in the US but perhaps it would help to know how we got there:

2010 – Obamacare or the Affordable Care Act was signed into law.

2003 – Medicare Prescriptions Drug Improvement and Modernization Act was put in place

2002 – The Office of Public Health Emergency Preparedness was formed to help co-ordinate the fight against and dealing with emergency health threats and bioterrorism

2001 – Center for Medicare and Center for Medicaid formed

2001 – First Bioterrorism threat detected in US through Anthrax delivery via the mail

2000 – Human Genome Sequencing made public

1999 – Ticket to Work and Work Incentives Improvement Act signed, helping disabled people to go back to work and no lose Medicare or Medicaid cover

1997 – SCHIP – State Children’s Health Insurance Program created

1996 – HIPPA – Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act enacted

1995 – Social Security Administration – SSA – is made independent

1993 – Vaccines for Children Program begins

1990 – Human Genome Project begins

1990 – Food labels became authorized under the Nutrition Labelling and Education Act

1990 – Ryan White CARE Act began supporting those with AIDS

1989 – Agency for Health Care Policy and Research was formed

1988 – McKinney Act passed so that homeless people could get access to health care

1984 – The beginning of the National Organ Transplant Act

1981 – Identification of AIDS followed by the licensing of a blood test that detects HIV

1980 – Foster care and adoption assistance finding provided

1979 – Department of Education Organization Act begins

1977 – Medicare and Medicaid now managed separate from the SSA by the Health Care Financing Administration

1977 – Smallpox eradicated

1975 – The establishment of the Child Support Enforcement program

1971 – Signing of the National Cancer Act

1970 – Creation of the National Health Service Corps

1966 – Launch of the Community Health Center and Migrant Health Center programs

1965 – Medicare and Medicaid begins

1964 – The first ever Surgeon General’s report on the effects of smoking on health

1962 – Migrant Health Act becomes law

1961 – First ever White House Conference on Aging

1955 – Salk Polio Vaccine Licenced

1953 – Eisenhower creates Cabinet-Level Department of Health, Education and Welfare

1946 – Establishment of the Communicable Disease Center

1939 – FSA – Federal Security Agency – begins to join together activities in Health, Education and Social Insurance fields

1938 – FFDCA – Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act passed

1935 – Passing of the Social Security Act

1930 – National Institute of Health created

1912 – First White House Conference with President Theodore Roosevelt to talk about creating a Children’s Bureau to protect children from exploitation

1906 – Pure Food and Drugs Act passed

1902 – Marine Hospital Service converted to Public Health and Marine Hospital Service

1891 – Legislation passed giving the Marine Hospital Service responsibility for examining immigrants

1887 – Federal Government opened a one –room Center for Disease Research on Staten Island

1878 – National Quarantine Act passed

1871 – First Supervising Surgeon appointed – later to become known as Surgeon General

1862Charles M Wetherill, a chemist, is appointed by President Lincoln to the Department of Agriculture – this is where the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) began

1798 – An Act is passed to provide relief for seamen who are sick and/or disabled. This begins a network of hospitals responsible for the care of merchant seamen

Obviously, there is more to the history of healthcare policy development than this, but these dates signify the most notable points in history, allowing us to trace the origins of many of today’s health departments and to help us understand the length of time it can take for policies to be developed and passed as law.


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