Health Security Act

Health Security Act

Introduced by Sen. Ted Kennedy to the 91st Congress (1969-1970) as S. 4297 and the 92nd-95th Congresses (1971-1978) as S. 3. Companion legislation was filed by Representatives Martha Griffiths and James Corman in the House to the 92nd-95th Congresses (1971-1978) as H.R. 22.


Photo: Senator Ted Kennedy (D-MA) speaking to AFSCME on healthcare reform.

Index of Information on the Health Security Act


Details of the Health Security Act

The Health Security Act would cover all U.S. citizens and documented permanent residents, covering all benefits including vision, with a few exceptions: 1) dental would initially be covered only for those age 15 or younger, and would gradually be expanded to all residents; 2) the drug benefit would be limited to inpatient and group practice facilities, as well as drugs needed for maintenance of certain chronic conditions; and 3) a limit of 120 covered days of nursing home care, and 45 days for mental hospital care. Benefits would be provided without any cost-sharing.

The Health Security Act would be administered by the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare [subsequently split into the Department of Education and the Department of Health and Human Services], and would pay hospitals and other institutions through negotiated budgets, while physicians would be paid on a fee-for-service or capitation basis.

The plan would be financed through a 3.5% payroll tax on employers (36% of total costs), a 1% payroll tax on the first $15,000 wages of employees (12% of costs); a 2.5% payroll tax on the self-employed (2% of costs); and the balance (50%) from general tax revenues. Certain unearned income would also be subject to a 2.5% tax.


Public Hearings on the Health Security Act and other National Health Reform

In 1971 prominent public hearings were hosted by the Senate’s Subcommittee on Health of the Committee on Labor and Public Welfare, which was chaired by Senator Kennedy, on the “Health Care Crisis in America” – the hearings were held over 23 days at locations across the country. Extensive hearings were also held by the House Committee on Ways and Means on “National Health Insurance Proposals” in October and November, and by the Senate Committee on Finance on “National Health Insurance” in April 1971.


Contemporary Summaries and Analysis of the Health Security Act

Report by Committee on Finance staff, titled “National Health Insurance: Brief Outline of Pending Bills,” with summaries of S. 3, S. 836, and six other bills (published April 26, 1971):


Information on the Senate Bill, S.3

Read the full bill from 95th Congress (1977-1978).
Read the summary of S.3 from the 95th Congress (1977-1978).
See the list of 13 Congressional cosponsors for the 95th Congress (1977-1978).


Read the full bill from 94th Congress (1975-1976).
Read the summary of S.3 from the 94th Congress (1975-1976).
See the list of 21 Congressional cosponsors for the 94th Congress (1975-1976).


Read the full bill from 93rd Congress (1973-1974).
Read the summary of S.3 from the 93rd Congress (1973-1974).
See the list of 21 Congressional cosponsors for the 93rd Congress (1973-1974).


Introductory remarks by Sen. Kennedy and full text of S. 3 as submitted to the Congressional Record on January 25, 1971:

Information on the House Bill, H.R. 22

Read the full bill from 95th Congress (1977-1978).
Read the summary of H.R.22 from the 95th Congress (1977-1978).
See the list of 23 Congressional cosponsors for the 95th Congress (1977-1978).


Read the full bill from 94th Congress (1975-1976).
Read the summary of H.R.22 from the 94th Congress (1975-1976).
See the list of 16 Congressional cosponsors for the 94th Congress (1975-1976).


Read the full bill from 93rd Congress (1973-1974).
Read the summary of H.R.22 from the 93rd Congress (1973-1974).
See the list of 24 Congressional cosponsors for the 93rd Congress (1973-1974).


Bibliography of Historical Writings on the Health Security Act