George Aumoithe

Ph.D. Candidate Department of History Columbia University

2016 to 2017
Research Fellow

Epidemic Preparedness in the Age of Chronic Illness: Public Health and Welfare Politics in the United States, 1965-2000

"Epidemic Preparedness in the Age of Chronic Illness: Public Health and Welfare Politics in the United States, 1965-2000" examines how the creation of Medicare and Medicaid led to health planning that oscillated between expanding access and containing costs. Federal health planners throughout administrations in the 1970s cut funding to public hospitals and sought to empower state health agencies to authorize new hospital construction and medical services. By the 1980s, state health agencies throughout the states were authorized to continue cost containment policies even though a growing AIDS epidemic soon overwhelmed medical systems. An attempt to formulate a political economy of healthcare on the eve of an epidemic, this dissertation examines shortcomings in public health and welfare provision. A healthcare system focused on chronic disease by the 1960s and cost cutting in the 1970s could not cope with an emergent infectious disease like AIDS.