The federal government's role in providing health care dates back to 1942 when Congress passed legislation to provide emergency health services to military dependents of lower pay grade servicemen. The following year, President Franklin Roosevelt called for 'cradle to grave' insurance in his State of the Union, and two years later proposed to Congress a wide-ranging medical benefit tied to the Social Security system.
In the mid 1940's, some of the first comprehensive health care proposals were gaining support in Congress. In 1945, President Harry Truman proposed a national health benefit covering physician and hospital services-for the first time lending Executive branch support for Congressional health reform efforts. By 1949, President Truman was calling for a payroll tax to fund national health care initiatives.
Congress adopted the Social Security Amendments of 1960 to provide increased federal grants to states for medical care for the elderly. In 1962 President John F. Kennedy called on Congress to provide health insurance protection for the elderly, but was unable to fulfill his goal of creating a national health care program. After Kennedy's assassination, President Johnson exercised his public support to leverage Kennedy's Great Society proposals, including the establishment of Medicare and Medicaid programs, which Congress passed in the Social Security Act of 1965.