This Is AuburnElectronic Theses and Dissertations

Senators Hill and Sparkman and Nine Alabama Congressmen Debate National Health Insurance, 1935-1965




Markley, Gregory

Type of Degree





From the 1930s to the 1960s, Senator Lister Hill of Alabama was admired for his experience with issues like national health insurance (NHI). Senator John Sparkman, also from Alabama, was fiscally conservative yet sensitive to people’s struggles with medical bills. This thesis’s topic is how Hill’s and Sparkman’s initial opposition to NHI turned to approval of Medicare. They voted for the program despite deep constituent opposition. In the House, five Alabama Republicans and two Democrats voted against Medicare. Democrat Bob Jones missed the first House vote because he was hospitalized, but he did vote for the conference report in July. The second focus is what motivated these congressmen to vote as they did. Elements included fear of --Y΄socialism,‘ the high price tag of Medicare, and concern that forced integration would ensue with Medicare.