Posted by AzBlueMeanie:
On July 30, 1965, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Social
Security Amendments establishing Medicare and Medicaid. The guest of
honor at the signing ceremony was former President Harry S. Truman, who
fought for most of his political career to achieve this goal. (h/t Daily Kos for photo).
LBJ signs Medicare into law, with Harry S. Truman watching.
Congressman John Conyers, Jr. penned an op-ed for The Hill today, Happy 48th birthday, Medicare:
As I reflect on my 48 years in Congress, at the positive policies
created and those that have had not so positive effects, the enactment
of Medicare is a bold highlight.
I voted for its original passage out of the House during my first
summer as a congressman, during a time that was very different from the
America of today. Prior to Medicare’s creation, only half of older
adults had health insurance, with coverage often unavailable or
unaffordable to the other half because of limited incomes and policies
that cost nearly three times as much for the elderly than the young.
Medicare’s positive impact was more than just extending medical
coverage to more than 19 million elderly citizens in its first year. A
significant requirement of its implementation was provider compliance
with Title VI of the then recently passed Civil Rights Act of 1964.
Almost overnight, this requirement effectively brought an end to segregation in hospitals.
Less than a decade after its creation, Medicare underwent a notable
expansion in coverage, when eligibility expanded to include disabled
persons receiving cash benefits under the Social Security disability
program and persons with end-stage renal disease. Nearly a half century
later, Medicare serves 50 million elderly Americans annually. The
majority of these individuals would otherwise very likely have no health
Medicare’s coverage and benefits have extended countless years of
qualify life to those receiving its medical care. I am encouraged to see
that awareness of these results has brought action to reform the
healthcare system and further expand coverage to more Americans. With
the passage and upcoming implementation of the Affordable Care Act
(ACA), an additional 30 million Americans currently uninsured will be
able to access medical care at a reasonable price. While I fully support
the progress the reform law is bringing, I believe there is more we can
do to ensure medical access for every American.
I believe Medicare For All is the answer, which is why I have
introduced and advocated for since 2003 a publicly funded, privately
distributed insurance program, H.R. 676. Even with the expansion of
access that ACA will provide, there will still be those who fall through
the gaps or who struggle to pay for the costs of medical care. This
would not be the case under a single-payer program like H.R. 676.
Each year, Medicare’s birthday creates a wonderful opportunity to
come together and work in a constructive way advocating for
transitioning our for-profit and costly healthcare system to a
high-quality, simple and cost-effective Medicare For All program.
Americans are frustrated with exorbitant and rising healthcare costs,
and many have a deep mistrust of private health insurance companies.
The for-profit medicine model has resulted in rationed care and created
undue stress and financial hardships for millions of Americans across
the nation. Americans are smart — they know improved public health
insurance works in other countries. They also know that our own Medicare
program, although not perfect, is a proven and efficient method for
providing healthcare to America’s seniors.
As we celebrate Medicare’s birthday today, it is suitable to pause
and remember the signing of the Medicare Act, which took place at the
Truman Library in Independence, Mo., on this day, 48 years ago, and what
Lyndon Johnson said: “No longer will older Americans be denied the
healing miracle of modern medicine. No longer will illness crush and
destroy the savings they have so carefully put away over a lifetime so
that they might enjoy dignity in their later years.”
By enacting H.R. 676, this could be the reality for every single American.
John Conyers Jr., D-Mich., has represented Michigan in the House
of Representatives since 1965. He is ranking member on the Judiciary