Happy 54th Birthday, Medicare and Medicaid!

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Today, July 30, we celebrate the 54th anniversary of the passage of Medicare and Medicaid. In 1965,

  • 19 million seniors and people with disabilities were eligible for Medicare; today, 58.4 million people get health insurance through Medicare

  • Medicaid covered only people receiving cash welfare assistance from the federal government (low-income parents, children and people with disabilities). Now eligibility is tied to income, not welfare receipt, and many more categories of people are eligible. About 75 million people get health insurance through Medicaid.

President Truman had first introduced a bill to provide health insurance as part of the Social Security Act in 1945 and was thrilled to live to see its passage 20 years later. President Johnson said at the signing ceremony: “No longer will older Americans be denied the healing miracle of modern medicine. No longer will illness crush and destroy the savings that they have so carefully put away over a lifetime so that they might enjoy dignity in their later years."

Jane McNichol