“I predict that 30 years from today, this bill will be a welcome and permanent part of our nation’s heritage that no representative would ever dare repeal...”
- President Lyndon B. Johnson
July 30th, 2015 (this Thursday) marks the 50th anniversary of Medicare. To commemorate such a milestone, CaptureProof has a 5-post series, detailing the history of Medicare throughout each decade.
This is post 1 – so let’s rewind back in time to the 60s!
On November 22nd of 1963, Lyndon B. Johnson becomes president and began an era of the most progressive reforms since President Roosevelt was in office during the Great Depression. Less than two years later, he delivers the speech, Advancing the Nation’s Health, in which he outlines his plans for Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security reforms. A few months later, on July 9th of the same year, Congress passes the Social Security amendment, establishing Medicare, and therefore granting health insurance to citizens over 65. Prior to this amendment, roughly half of all Americans over the age of 65 did not have any health insurance. This majorly affected the senior population’s ability to receive preventative care, as at least a 25% of seniors were estimated to avoid medical care because of concern over the cost. Medicare helped to counteract this, and a study published in the Journal of Health Affairs found that average life expectancy for those over 65 increased by 3.5 years from 1960 to 1998.
On July 30th, 1965, former President Truman became the first senior to enroll in medicare, having fought for similar legislation during his time in Congress in the 1940’s. Following Truman, more than 19 million Americans enrolled. The legislation would not see any major changes until 1972, when President Nixon expanded Medicare to grant eligibility to those under 65 with long-term disabilities or end stage renal disease. The changes also established the Professional Standards Review Organization to ensure quality patient care and expanded benefits to cover physical therapy, speech therapy, and chiropractic treatments.
When President Johnson spoke of Medicare at it’s inception, predicting such long-term success, even he only mentioned a program that would span 3 decades. Now, that time has almost doubled, cementing Medicare’s important and permanent place in the American healthcare system.
Check out the blog Monday for our post on Decade 2 of Medicare