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Thursday, July 30th, 2015

Chair Nancy Worley:  Happy 50th Anniversary, Medicare and Medicaid

On July 30, 1965, President Lyndon Johnson signed legislation to establish Medicare for the elderly and Medicaid for low-income adults, children, pregnant women, and people with disabilities.  As Medicare and Medicaid turn 50 years old, millions of Americans have benefitted from these programs which have saved lives, reduced the number of uninsured Americans, helped people live longer, and provided the peace of mind that comes with affordable health care which is available when you need it.

The chances are good that everyone reading or hearing this either has Medicare or Medicaid, or knows someone who has benefitted from these programs.  Nearly 10,000 Americans turn 65 every day – that’s more than a quarter million each month who benefit from Medicare and Medicaid.  Fifty years later, we sometimes take these programs for granted which provide preventive services such as flu shots and diabetes screenings, or coverage for hospital stays, lab tests, wheelchairs, prescription drugs and more.

It’s easy to forget that before 1966, roughly half of all seniors were uninsured and lived in fear that the high cost of health care would cause them and their families to be poverty stricken.  Too few of us remember that not that long ago, far too many disabled people, families with children, pregnant women and low-income working Americans were unable to afford the medical care they needed to stay healthy and productive.

In 2015, fifty years after Medicare and Medicaid were signed into law and transformed the delivery of health care in the United States, millions of Americans now have access to the quality and affordable health care they need to live happy, healthy and productive lives.

Happy Golden Anniversary, Medicare and Medicaid.