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Medicare celebrates 50th Anniversary

Today is the 50th Anniversary of Medicare.

Medicare helped my parents, and it’s helped millions of older Americans.

My parents used to talk about “going to the poorhouse.” I seemed when their parents were growing up, poor people were actually taken to poor farms or buildings that were part of a prison or public institution. If they were able bodied, they were required to work.

My parents were spared poverty due to Medicare and Social Security.

When Pres. Lyndon B. Johnson signed Medicare into law on July 30, 1965, about half of Americans 65 and older had no health insurance.

In the first six months, more than 2.5 million Americans benefitted from Medicare-covered hospital care. Fifty years later, 55.2 million Americans are enrolled in Medicare.

The Center for Medicare Advocacy offers “50 Insights for Medicare’s 50th Anniversary”:

  1. Medicare Was Key to Integrating Hospitals
  2. Medicare Reduced Poverty
  3. Medicare Saves Lives
  4. Medicare’s Future Was Strengthened by the Affordable Care Act (ACA)
  5. Medicare is a Sacred Trust that Must Be Preserved
  6. Medicare Helps People with Disabilities
  7. Medicare Beneficiaries are Remarkable
  8. Medicare is at the Heart of America's Character
  9. Medicare is Good. It Could Have Been Even Better.
  10. Medicare Helps Older and Disabled People Stay Home
  11. Medicare Helps Low Income People
  12. Medicare Is a Model for All Health Insurance
  13. Medicare Increasingly Benefits Private Industry 
  14. Medicare Opened Doors to Care – Let’s Not Really Celebrate Until They’re Opened for Everyone
  15. Medicare Helps People at the End of Life
  16. Medicare Was a Precursor to Current Debates about the Role of Government
  17. Medicare Must Help People Communicate
  18. Medicare Doesn’t Cover Long-Term Nursing Home Care
  19. Medicare Has Options: Know What You Need… and What You Want
  20. Medicare is There When People Need it Most 
  21. Medicare is One of the Greatest Achievements of the 20th Century
  22. Medicare Needs an Alert Watchdog
  23. Medicare Should Fill Gaps in Coverage for Oral Health and Other Key Health Services
  24. Medicare and Prescription Drug Coverage
  25. Medicare Can Be a Source for LGBT Inclusive Medical Care
  26. Medicare Needs a Timely Way for Patients to Appeal Hospice Denials
  27. Medicare Covers Preventive Care
  28. Medicare Makes Health Care Affordable
  29. Medicare Needs to Address Enrollment Confusion and Notify People When it’s Time to Enroll
  30. Medicare Provides Hope for Patients and Families
  31. Medicare Gives Freedom, Flexibility and Choice
  32. Medicare is a Success – And Americans Are Willing to Pay for It
  33. Medicare is a Private–Public Partnership
  34. Medicare Helps People Help Others
  35. Medicare Helps Patients Transition from One Care-Setting to Another – But More is Needed
  36. Medicare Provides Silent Support for Generations
  37. Medicare Should Be For Everyone
  38. Medicare Makes Hard Things a Bit Easier
  39. Medicare Offers “Defined” Benefits That People Can Count On
  40. Medicare Lets People with Disabilities Live Their Lives
  41. Medicare' Appeals Process Is an Important Beneficiary Protection that Must Be Fixed
  42. Medicare Provides Economic Security
  43. Medicare Should Be Allowed to Work
  44. Medicare to the Rescue
  45. Medicare May Be Helpful in the Event of a Disaster or Emergency
  46. Medicare Must Continue to Evolve – Add Coverage for Hearing Aids
  47. Medicare Should Include Drug Coverage in the Traditional Program (and Negotiate Prices)
  48. Medicare Should Properly Cover Physical, Speech, and Occupational Therapies
  49. Medicare Beneficiaries are Grateful (A Compilation)
  50. Medicare is 50!

Medicaid, a state and federally funded program that offers health coverage to low-income Americans, was also signed into law on July 30, 1965.

In a proclamation, Pres. Barack Obama said:

Medicare and Medicaid did not just make our country better; they reaffirmed its greatness and established a legacy that we must carry forward today. We must recognize that this work, though begun a half-century ago and continued over the decades that have followed, is not yet complete. For too many, quality, affordable health care is still out of reach – and we must recommit to finishing this important task.

Pres. Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Social Security into law on Aug. 14, 1935. I’ll be writing about Social Security on its upcoming 70th Anniversary.

Copyright 2015, Rita R. Robison, Consumer Specialist

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