Author Thom Hartmann told Hill.TV that racism and the power of corporate America have been some of the biggest impediments to the United States establishing a national health care system.
In an interview with Hill.TV’s “Rising,” Hartmann said racism played a major role in the opposition to a national health care system over the years. During the late 19th century, he said, some Americans believed that if Black people were not given access to health care then the race would die out.
“Racism, up until the 70s, was largely driving this, and largely drove much of the Tea Party opposition to ObamaCare,” said Hartmann, a New York Times bestseller and author of “The Hidden History of American Healthcare: Why Sickness Bankrupts You and Makes Others Insanely Rich.”
Today, he said, major pharmaceutical corporations are now one of the biggest driving forces behind opposition to national health care.
The Myth Of The Actuary: Life Insurance And Frederick L. Hoffman’s Race Traits And Tendencies Of The American Negro
In May 1896, Frederick L. Hoffman, a statistician at the Prudential Life Insurance Company, published a 330-page article in the prestigious Publications of the American Economic Association intended to prove—with statistical reliability—that the American Negro was uninsurable. Race Traits and Tendencies of the American Negro was a compilation of statistics, eugenic theory, observation, and speculation, solicited by the Prudential in response to a wave of state legislation banning discrimination against African Americans.
Race Traits immediately became a key text in one of the central social preoccupations of the turn of the century: the supposed Negro Problem. Numerous turn-of-the-century tracts (including Hoffman’s) stipulated that minority racial groups were not only biologically inferior but also barriers to progress. Hoffman, a German immigrant, was one of the leading statisticians of his time and also a strong proponent of racial hierarchy and white supremacy.1 His application of mathematical tools to a social debate set a precedent for the use of statistics and actuarial science—two fields then in their infancies, which absorbed the biases and errors of their early participants. Though Race Traits was hailed by many as a work of genius, even in its own day critics attacked its racist premise and suppositions, noting that Hoffman’s sources were problematical and his mathematical analysis flawed. Hoffman’s work embedded racial ideologies within its approach to actuarial data, a legacy that remains with the field today.
Hartmann’s comments come as Democrats look to expand Medicare eligibility by lowering the minimum age for participating in the federal program. Opponents to such an expansion warn that it’s a slippery slope to “Medicare for All” and the kind of national health care favored by progressives.