Independence, Missouri (JFK+50) A half-century ago today, July 30, 1965, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed into law the Medicare Act of 1965 in a
historic ceremony held at the Harry S Truman Library here in Independence.
Not only was Mr. Truman on hand for the ceremony, he was the first person to enroll and the first to get his Medicare card.* The 33rd POTUS was so honored because he was the first chief executive to propose a national health insurance program for senior citizens.
President Johnson said to President Truman before he signed up for the program...
"We know and want you to know that we haven't forgotten who is the REAL DADDY of Medicare."
Medicare, which was expected to cover 20,000 citizens in 1966, was made available to those who were 65 years of age or older.The program is funded, like Social Security, by payroll taxes.
According to Steve Anderson of Medicare Resources, the idea for national health care originated with Theodore Roosevelt who, as the Progressive Party's candidate for President in 1912, advocated it.
The idea resurfaced in November 1945 when President Harry S Truman called for the creation of a national health insurance fund. President John F. Kennedy continued the advocacy of medical care for the aged prior to LBJ's success in getting the legislation through Congress.
The Center for Medicare Advocacy says...
"Medicare has been an incredible success. It's our turn to ensure it continues...and opens doors to healthcare and economic security for future generations."
CMA cites the following statistics as proof of Medicare's success...
*Before Medicare less than 50% of the elderly had health insurance, by 1970 under Medicare 96% of the elderly were covered.
**The life expectancy increased for men by 8 years with the Medicare program while women's life expectancy rose by 5 years.
***10 million Americans were enrolled the first year of Medicare, today 54 million Americans are enrolled.
According to David S. Ball writing in The Post and Courier of Charleston, S.C.,
"Despite its warts and room for improvement, Medicare remains more efficient than private health insurance. Its costs have risen more slowly, and yet it provides better access to care, better financial protection, and higher patient satisfaction."
*Mr. Truman's card was #1 & Bess Truman's card was #2.
"A brief history of Medicare in America," by Steve Anderson, Medicare Resources, www.medicareresources.org/
"Medicare's 50th Anniversary," Center for Medicare Advocacy," www.medicareadvocacy.org/
"Medicare's success deserves celebration on its 49th birthday," by David S. Ball, R.N. MHA, Post and Courier, July 30, 2014.