Origins of the Medical Care Section

1872: American Public Health Association founded for mostly engineers to focus on sanitary science and public hygiene


1890s: Focus on sanitation shifted from engineers to bacteriologists


1920: Committee on Municipal Health Department Practice (CMHDP) founded to study municipal health departments and variations in procedures and services offered by community


1925: CMHDP renamed to Committee on Administrative Practices (CAP) and expanded to include data collection, formulating and promoting community health service programs by evaluating and securing public backing and standardizing ratings to compare local areas


1926: C.-E. A Winslow, APHA president, says APHA must not separate preventive and curative medicine.  As a result, CAP established a medical care committee, Subcommittee on Relations of Health Departments and Hospitals, which is later renamed to Subcommittee of Organized Care of the Sick (SOCS)


1927: Winslow asks the Health Officer’s Section to expand SOCS’ medical care purview


1932: Committee on the Costs of Medical Care publishes Medical Care for the American People, which called for the expansion of public health into medical care


1938: The US Technical Committee on Medical Care, US Interdepartmental Committee to Coordinate Health and Welfare Activities, US Public Health Service and Works Progress Administration publish results from a survey of 2.8 million people, concluding that universal insurance was the best way to extend coverage while reducing the federal government’s annual health bill.


1938: APHA endorses the Technical Committees goal of universal insurance


1940: Subcommittee on Medical Care (SMC) established to design studies to elucidate medical care problems and the role of health departments in health program admininistration


1941: Medical Care introduced as a quarterly journal


1944: APHA endorses the SMC policy report/position paper supporting a national medical care program


1946: SMC receives $20,000 grant from Rockefeller Foundation to lead the development of a national medical care program


1947: SMC publishes “Planning for the Chronically Ill,” with the American Hospital Association, American Medical Association and American Public Welfare Association


1947: I.S. Falk, PhD recommends SMC be granted committee status


1947: Martha Eliot, president-elect of APHA and Milton Roemer, push for section status of SMC


1948: Medical Care Section (MCS) founded.  Initial members were administrators, hospital plan executives, state hospital program directors, medical care social workers, directors of voluntary and public medical care plans, specialists in rehabilitation and clinicians.


1955: MCS pushes APHA to adopt the MCS equal opportunity resolution as APHA policy statement


1960s: MCS broadens focus to include racial integration in health services, hospital facilities, health professions and forms regional committees to monitor equal opportunity legislation through Section Committee on Race Discrimination


1963: Medical Care reintroduced as quarterly journal until 1966


1967: Medical Care becomes official journal of MCS, printed six times a year


1970s: MCS broadens focus to include environmental health and justice


1973: Medical Care becomes a monthly journal


1980s: MCS helps found Mental Health, Social Workers and Community Health Planning Sections.  MCS also founds its information technology, prison health and rural health committees.


1990s: MCS broadens focus to include lobbying national organizations to document health disparities by race and social class


1996: MCS broadens focus to include protesting against “welfare repeal” and expansion of “corporate welfare”


1997: APHA endorses the MCS position paper against “for-profitization” of health care system.


1999: Avedis Donabedian Healthcare Quality Award created


2002: Medical Care ranked #1 Science Citation Index Health Policy/Public Health Journal


2006: Catarina I. Kiefe, MD, PhD and Jeroan J. Allison, MD, MS chosen as new Editors-in-Chief of Medical Care


Further Reading

Fein O (1999). The Medical Care Section 1994-2005: Reflections on our past and future. Medical Care 37(8):837-41.

Milio N (1999). Contending with forces of progress and retrogression, 1965-1994: The Medical Care Section. Medical Care 37(8):833-6.

Roemer MI (1999). Origins of APHA’s Medical Care Section. Medical Care 37(8): 831-2.

Viseltear AJ (1972). Emergence of the Medical Care Section of the American Public Health Association, 1926-1948: A chapter in the history of medical care in the United States. Washington, DC: American Public Health Association.