Clinton argued that FDR did not make Social Security voluntary and Lyndon Johnson did not make Medicare voluntary. Her reference to Medicare reminded me of how Medicare supporters neutralized strong opposition from the American Medical Association and worked to educate the public before the Medicare law was passed. They didn’t do it with sound bites but with hundreds of pieces of literature that gave precise details of how Medicare would work and why it was necessary. A representative of the National Council of Senior Citizens recalled, in One Nation Uninsured by Jill Quadagno, “There was no other bill in history where details were as widely disseminated.”

That’s a history lesson worth remembering.

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Trudy Lieberman is a fellow at the Center for Advancing Health and a longtime contributing editor to the Columbia Journalism Review. She is the lead writer for The Second Opinion, CJR’s healthcare desk, which is part of our United States Project on the coverage of politics and policy. Follow her on Twitter @Trudy_Lieberman.