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July 2011

Hidden in the SixtiesNewborn Screening Programs and State Authority

Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2011;165(7):589-591. doi:10.1001/archpediatrics.2011.107

Ask people in the United States about the “sixties,” and they are likely to tell stories about sex, drugs, and rock and roll. The established order was challenged at a societal level by antiwar protests and the Civil Rights Movement and at an individual level by youth who sought to explore new experiences untethered by conventional notions of morality. For all the anti-authoritarianism of the sixties, however, it was also a time of remarkable expansion in the number and reach of government programs, particularly in health care. In 1965, for example, the Medicare program was created to guarantee health insurance for all citizens older than 65 years, helping lower the poverty rate among seniors from 30% to 10%. Poverty among children was also recognized as a moral issue with critical practical consequences, and the Johnson administration's “War on Poverty” included Medicaid, Head Start, and direct financial support to families living in poverty. These programs, along with a booming economy, halved childhood poverty to 14% by the early 1970s. (It has since doubled again.)

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