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National Information Center on Health Services Research and Health Care Technology (NICHSR)

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Introduction to Health Services Research : A Self-Study Course

Module 2: Brief History of Health Services Research (Page 13 of 40)

The Great Depression and Social Reform

Social Security Logo Courtesy of the National Library of Medicine.During the Depression, the utilization of hospital and physician services fell drastically. Even doctors, struggling for paying patients, asked the government to help pay for medical care.

Social Reformers Force Change

In response to the severe economic conditions, social reformers again became a major force for change. For example, the Social Security Act and other New Deal legislation were enacted in the 1930s against a backdrop of massive social unrest and militancy characterized by union and communist organizing drives, strikes, and the Bonus Marches of unemployed WWI veterans.

Social Security Act Passed

1935 was an important year. This was the year the Social Security Act was passed into law.

View Key Projects and Milestones in Health Services Research.

Discussion Questions

  1. Can you identify one (or more) of more of the problems/unintended consequences we are facing today as a result of the passing of the Social Security Act of 1935?
  2. President Bush in 2005, 2006 and 2007 raised concerns about the viability of Social Security in the coming years. What issues did he and his advisors identify? What do you think will happen as a result of his concerns? How will changes in Social Security affect access to care and the health status of the American people?
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