New Deal Medicine: The Rural Health Programs of the Farm Security Administration

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9780801869174: New Deal Medicine: The Rural Health Programs of the Farm Security Administration
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In New Deal Medicine, physician and historian Michael Grey brings to light the diversity, reach, and complexity of the medical care programs of the Farm Security Administration. Drawing on oral histories, archival records, and medical journals from the 1930s and 1940s, Grey finds the programs were both a rehearsal for more modern forms of medical organization and a lightning rod for critics of "socialized medicine." He assesses the compromises made to try to preserve the programs' somewhat "secret objective" of providing the poor with health care while not running afoul of conservative politicians and their colleagues in the AMA. Acknowledging the effect of changing demographics (doctors, nurses, and farmers alike marched off to war) and economics, Grey contends that these factors do not fully explain the demise of the FSA experiment in health care. Rather, the political winds shifted at the same time that the medical profession acted to protect its authority over the practice of medicine.

New Deal Medicine shows that, by the peculiarly American style of "incrementalism," many of the FSA medical care structures and goals have been at least partially realized in the United States and in Canada. The lessons learned by the FSA personnel were transferred into health programs in Canada, in the labor unions, and finally in Lyndon Johnson's "Great Society."

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From the Publisher:

"Grey's well-written work is a requiem to the progressive programs of the New Deal . . . A timely reminder that the benefits of medicine should be, but still are not, affordable and accessible to all Americans."—Susan L. Smith, Journal of American History

"Grey demonstrates that the FSA initiatives are not only critical to a full understanding of the New Deal but also fill important lacunae in the historical literature about the effort to achieve national health insurance in the twentieth century . . . it is likely to remain the definitive history of these health programs for some time."—Gerald Markowitz, American Historical Review

"This thoroughly researched, well-written account should do much to increase interest in the emerging field of rural health care."—John Welshman, Social History of Medicine

"With thoroughly researched archives and oral histories, cogently argued conclusions, and extraordinarily well written text, this book is a major contribution."—Choice

"Michael Grey has provided the fullest account to date of grass roots public health efforts during the Great Depression. This is an eye-opening story of the best and worst of American health care during this tumultuous time in America's history."—David Rosner, Co-director, Program in the History of Public Health and Medicine, Columbia University

About the Author:

Michael R. Grey is the director of the Primary Care Internal Medicine Residency Program and associate dean for continuing education at the University of Connecticut School of Medicine.

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