Mass-Care is saddened by the news that our longtime friend and mentor Rashi Fein passed away on September 8, 2014 at the age of 88 from melanoma. Dr. Fein was a solid supporter of Mass-Care since its founding in 1995. He was a speaker at many events and his writing and his teaching kept generations of Single Payer advocates armed with facts and inspired by his steadfast belief that we can achieve a just health care system if we can generate the political will. As he wrote in his book “The Health Care Mess” in 2005, “Universal health insurance, access, and promotion of health are more than matters of health policy. In a fundamental sense they are matters of social policy and require a social revolution”. Mass-Care is a leader in the current social revolution over income disparity and inequality of opportunity. The goal of this movement is to galvanize a huge coalition of people from all segments of society to bring about progressive policy changes including a universal health care system.
Dr. Fein was a giant in his field of healthcare economics. Throughout his professional life he pursued his conviction that achieving a national healthcare system was the best way to provide affordable quality care for everyone. His core belief in equality and fairness was at the center of his goal for universal health care. He was instrumental in laying the groundwork for the passage of Medicare and Medicaid through his writings, personal contacts, and his work on various commissions under the administrations of President Truman, President Kennedy, and President Lyndon Johnson. It was a major disappointment for him that the passage of Medicare did not lead to further legislation calling for Medicare for all.
Dr. Fein received his doctorate in political economy in 1956 at John’s Hopkins and had a career teaching medical economics at several institutions including Chapel Hill, NC, and Harvard University. A former student of his who is now a Mass-Care activist had this to say about her student days under Dr. Fein’s tutelage. “Rashi, and we were encouraged to address him as Rashi, was always a most informative and compassionate teacher. No question was too simple for him. His passion for universal health care impressed many of us and helped to direct our careers. He was one in a million at the Harvard School of Public Health”. In addition to his teaching he worked on several presidential commissions on health economic policy, and he wrote many articles and published several books dealing with policies on healthcare including “Medical Care, Medical costs: The search for a Health Insurance Policy” 1986, “The Health Care Mess” co authored with Julius Richmond, MD in 2005, and “Learning Lessons: Medicine, Economics, and Public Policy” in 2010.
Dr. Fein and his wife Ruth were married for 65 years and were a team for social justice. We send Ruth and their family our deepest condolences.
For more details about Rashi Fein’s life please see the Boston Globe obituary from Sept. 11, 2014.