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Ronald Reagan Opposes Socialized Medicine,
and Engages in Class Warfare (SOLD)
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“I am against this bill because it is a compulsory program for all citizens whether they need help or not. It doesn’t seem to me that you & I should be taxed to provide govt. paid medical care for people who have ample incomes, or even are millionaires.”

RONALD REAGAN. Autograph Letter Signed, to Miss Merced, Pacific Palisades, Calif., July 16, on personal letterhead with "Regan" hand corrected to "Reagan" [1961]. 2 pp., 8 1/2 x 11 in.

Inventory #22583       SOLD — please inquire about other items

Reagan signals his opposition to the King-Anderson healthcare bill, a proposal which, after significant watering down, would eventually be passed as Medicare.  

Complete Transcript

July 16

Dear Miss Merced

            I’m sorry you accepted at full value the newspaper story written by Drew Pearson before hearing my side.  Mr. Pearson’s assistant phoned me from Wash. D.C. and got a factual account of my views but in spite of this he preceded to write a completely dishonest and distorted article.  A measure of his inaccuracy is the fact he confused me with Phil Regan (the singing cop).  Three Presidents of the U.S. F.D.R. Truman & Eisenhower have all publicly called Drew Pearson a liar.  Incidentally I campaigned for & supported all of these men in all their campaigns for the Presidency.

            I am not against medical aid for our elder citizens I am against the measure now before Congress called the “King” bill.  I am against this bill because it is a compulsory program for all citizens whether they need help or not. It doesn’t seem to me that you & I should be taxed to provide govt. paid medical care for people who have ample incomes, or even are millionaires.

            Eight months ago Congress passed a bill known as the Kerr-Mills bill. This measure provides Fed. funds to the states to pay for medical care for all senior citizens who need it and can’t pay for it. Now there hasn’t been time to get this measure into operation yet. I am in favor of this bill and think we should give it a chance to see if it will answer the problem. I don’t think we should go right ahead and pass another bill without waiting. By the way the “King” bill is in reality the old “Forand” bill which was voted down by Cong. during the Truman era.

            Attached is a copy of the wire I sent Drew Pearson – also a talk which explains my views.


                                                                                                Best Regards

                                                                                                Ronald Reagan

            P.S.  I am not seeking any public office

Historical Background

In 1961, the American Medical Association launched “Operation Coffeecup,” enlisting their women’s auxiliary to scuttle the King-Anderson healthcare bill, which was to offer medical care to older Americans. The women, mostly doctors’ wives, arranged “coffee klatches in the spring of 1961. Friends and neighbors would be invited to share coffee, and sponsors downplayed the subject matter as a benign, friendly, nonpartisan discussion of America health care issues” explained Richard Rapaport. Reagan’s father-in-law, Dr. Loyal Davis, was president of the American Medical Association. For Operation Coffeecup, the AMA produced a vinyl LP entitled “Ronald Reagan Speaks Out Against Socialized Medicine,” which was played to the assembled women. The AMA women then handed out pens and letter templates and encouraged their friends to write their Congressional delegations. The campaign resulted in a much-watered-down version of the King-Anderson bill becoming the law that created Medicare. Undoubtedly, Miss Merced had recently heard the recording.

Reagan officially changed his party affiliation in 1962, internalized the speech, and made it, along with attacks on “socialized medicine” part of national political debate. The LP was Reagan’s “initial foray into national politics,” and its ideas culminated with his address to the 1964 Republican Convention which catapulted him to national recognition.

Andrew Russell (Drew) Pearson (1897-1969) was an American muckraking journalist. At his peak, over 30 million people listened to his radio broadcasts or read his columns in the United States Daily, the Baltimore Sun, and the Christian Science Monitor. He began his career as a foreign newspaper journalist, served as Director of War Relief for the British Red Cross, and reported on the Cuban Revolution in 1930. Along with Robert S. Allen, Pearson began writing a gossip column, “Washington Merry-Go-Round,” which achieved both fame and notoriety by attacking politicians and pointing out corruption, often with little regard for hard evidence. He was one of the first journalists to stand up against Senator Joseph McCarthy’s anticommunist campaigns and voice opposition to the war in Vietnam. He also exposed Robert F. Kennedy’s wiretaps of Martin Luther King, Jr. He was involved in over fifty libel cases, but only lost once.

Ronald Wilson Reagan (1911-2004) was an actor who appeared in 53 films, including such B-movie classics as Knute Rockne—All American, Kings Row, and Bedtime for Bonzo.  He served as president of the Screen Actor’s Guild (1947-1952, and 1959). In his early political life, he was a New Deal Democrat who enthusiastically supported Franklin D. Roosevelt. From 1954 to 1962, Reagan worked as a spokesman for the General Electric Theatre television series. Through a combination of his relationship with General Electric and their sponsors, and future wife Nancy Davis’s politics, Reagan’s own political views grew more conservative throughout the 1950s. Although still a Democrat, he campaigned for Richard Nixon as California Senator in 1960, Dwight D. Eisenhower for President in 1952 and 1956, and again for Nixon as President in 1960.

Reagan officially changed his party affiliation to Republican in 1962. He then served as Governor of California (1967-1975), and the 40th President of the United States (1981-1989).


Evenly faded but still entirely legible, with minor edge toning.


Jim Heintze, “Biography of Drew Pearson.”

“Ronald Reagan. Biography.”

“40. Ronald Reagan, 1981-1989.”

Richard Rapaport, “How AMA ‘Coffeecup’ Gave Reagan a Boost.”