The prospects for health care reform seem to be dimming. If I were a progressive I would be wondering right now whether Medicare was a tactical mistake. The passage of Medicare meant that most old people get government-provided health care coverage. Yet the way to get things done in this country, politically, is to get old people behind them. Further health care reform doesn't now seem to promise much to old people, except spending cuts on them. Given their limited time horizons, old people don't so much value system-wide improvements, which invariably take some while to pay off.
If Medicare had not been passed, might this country have instituted universal health care coverage sometime in the 1970s?