National Health Insurance and Health Services Improvement Act

National Health Insurance and Health Services Improvement Act

Introduced by Senator Jacob Javits (R-NY) to the 91st Congress (1969-1970) as S. 3711, and to the 92nd Congress (1971-1972) as S. 836. No companion legislation was filed in the House.


Photo: Senator Javits (left) receiving a pen from President John F. Kennedy on the signing of the Health Professions Educational Assistance Act in September 1963.

Index of Information on the National Health Insurance and Health Services Improvement Act


Details of the Javits bill

The National Health Insurance and Health Services Improvement Act would, in its fist year, extend Medicare to widows over 60, widowers over 62, and all those with long-term disabilities [this last provision was eventually enacted in 1972]. The eligibility age of Medicare would then be lowered until all U.S. citizens and documented permanent residents would be covered by the end of year two.

Cost sharing for the program would be the same as Medicare at the time the bill was introduced, with the exception that the Medicare Part B premium would be eliminated. This means the bill included limited coverage of prescription drugs, and limits on days of stay for inpatient and long-term care. The Medicaid program would be preserved, and payments to providers as well as administration of the program would be the same as Medicare.

Similar to Sen. Kennedy’s Health Security Act, the bill would be financed by a 3.5% payroll tax on employers, employees, and the self-employed (with only the first $15,000 of wage income being taxed for employees), along with a 50% contribution from general revenues.

Individuals could opt-out of payroll taxes by purchasing their own private health insurance of equal or better coverage, and employers could also opt-out of payroll taxes by offering insurance to their workers of equal or better coverage and paying at least 75% of the premium.


Public Hearings on the Javits bill 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 Javits bill

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):