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Press release
July 28, 2015

Medicare and Medicaid at 50: A Record of Success that sets the Foundation for the Future

Programs must be strengthened for today and the generations to come

Many of today’s young people will see the programs turn 100

Washington, D.C. – On July 30, 1965, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed into law the Social Security Amendments of 1965, creating the programs we now know as Medicare and Medicaid. Together these programs made health care affordable for seniors, the disabled, pregnant women, families with children and low-income working Americans. Today Medicare and Medicaid provide health insurance for more than 100 million Americans – about one in three – and are key parts of the American health care system. Following is the statement of Families USA Director Ron Pollack on the anniversary of Medicare and Medicaid.

“By any measure, Medicare and Medicaid are success stories. Over the past 50 years they have not only provided medical insurance to millions of the most vulnerable among us, but also helped ensure that medical bills following an accident or illness don’t impoverish them or their families.

“But as we celebrate this Golden Anniversary of the Medicare and Medicaid programs, we must keep in mind that millions of people across our country, including many of our nation’s young adults who are now in school or just entering the workforce, will live to see these programs turn 100. We need to preserve these programs for these Americans and the generations to follow. 

“As with all government programs, changes to both Medicare and Medicaid will be needed to keep pace with the times. But proposals to essentially end these programs by voucherizing Medicare and turning Medicaid into a state block-grant program must be rejected out of hand.

“And, looking toward the near future, we urge the 20 states that have not accepted Medicaid expansion to do so when their legislatures convene next year. The bulk of the people who would benefit from Medicaid expansion are low-income working adults who earn too much to qualify for traditional Medicaid, but too little to take advantage of the health care subsidies offered by the Affordable Care Act. Medicaid expansion was created precisely with them in mind. 

“But Medicaid expansion will also be good for each state’s economy. According to the Urban Institute, for every $1 a state invests in Medicaid expansion, it will receive about $13.40 federal dollars in return that will generate economic activity and shore up hospital finances. This is a remarkable return on investment when you consider the end result is a healthier population.”