"Health for three-thirds of the nation": public health advocacy of universal access to medical care in the United States

Am J Public Health. 2002 Feb;92(2):180-90. doi: 10.2105/ajph.92.2.180.


The public health community has made important, original contributions to the debate over universal access to health services in the United States. Well before the decision of the American Public Health Association in 1944 to endorse a health plan encompassing virtually the entire populace, prominent public health practitioners and scholars embraced universality as an essential principle of health policy. Influenced by Arthur Newsholme, C.-E. A. Winslow began to promote this principle in the 1920s. Many others came to justify universal medical care as a corollary of the traditional ideal of all-inclusive public health services. By the 1940s, most leaders in the field saw national health insurance as the best way to attain universal access. For the past 30 years, advocates of universalism have asserted a social right to health services.

Publication types

  • Biography
  • Historical Article
  • Portrait
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Health Care Reform / history*
  • Health Care Reform / organization & administration
  • Health Services Accessibility / economics*
  • Health Services Accessibility / legislation & jurisprudence
  • History, 20th Century
  • Humans
  • National Health Insurance, United States / history*
  • National Health Insurance, United States / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Public Health / history*
  • United States
  • Universal Health Insurance / history*
  • Universal Health Insurance / legislation & jurisprudence

Personal name as subject

  • Arthur Newsholme
  • Charles-Edward Amory Winslow