On this day in 1965, President Johnson signed into law an amendment to the Social Security Act which created Medicare and Medicaid. President Johnson signed the law at the Harry Truman Library in Missouri. President Johnson chose this location to honor his predecessor, the first president to propose a national
health insurance program. Medicare has expanded over the years and now covers the disabled as well as those Americans over the age of 65. Medicaid, known as AHCCCS in Arizona, has also broadened to cover more people since its inception.
It would be impossible to overstate the impact Medicare and Medicaid have had over their lifetimes. Without these two programs, nearly 120 million Americans (44 million on Medicare, 75 million on Medicaid) would be without health insurance. That is one-third of our fellow citizens.
It is fashionable to deride government programs as expensive failures. While that might be true of some efforts, Medicare and Medicaid have been, literally, lifesavers.
Happy Birthday to these twin programs that have done so much good for so many.