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September 25, 1996

Democrats Drop Universal Coverage

JAMA. 1996;276(12):931. doi:10.1001/jama.1996.03540120009003

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ALTHOUGH JOURNALISTS covering the 1996 Democratic Convention in August complained about lack of news, the convention did make history in at least one noteworthy way: For the first time since the Truman administration, the Democratic Party is not calling for universal health care coverage.

While the Democrats adopted their national platform and renominated President Bill Clinton, Physicians for a National Health Program held a 96-hour-long vigil outside the Chicago, Ill, convention to protest what it says is the Democrats' "ominous retreat" from the party's nearly half-century-long commitment to provide the nation with universal health insurance.

Unlike 12 consecutive party platforms before it, the 1996 Democratic National Platform does not list universal health care coverage as a goal. Instead, it only says that Democrats "must take further steps to ensure that Americans have access to quality, affordable health care," and that they "should start by making sure that people get help