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Celebrating 50 years of Medicare and Medicaid

Santa Monica Daily Press, July 11, 2015
by David Sayen

It’s easy to forget that before 1966, roughly half of all American seniors were uninsured, living in fear that the high cost of health care could plunge not only them, but their families, into poverty.  Few of us remember that not 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.

Fifty years ago, on July 30, 1965, the landscape of health care in America changed forever when President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the landmark amendment to the Social Security Act that gave life to the Medicare and Medicaid programs.

Medicare and Medicaid save lives, help people live longer, and provide the peace of mind that comes with affordable health care that’s there when you need it. Chances are, you or someone in your family either has Medicare or Medicaid or you know someone who does. In fact, Medicare and Medicaid cover nearly 1 out of every 3 Americans — that’s well over 100 million people.

Marking the 50th anniversary of these lifesaving programs this summer gives us an important opportunity to recognize and remember the ways these programs transformed the delivery of health care in the United States.

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