Commentary: elderly health program was created 50 years ago for a reason
by Wendell Potter
Center for Public Integrity, August 3, 2015
Republicans have long dreamed of finding a way to either privatize or get rid of Medicare, a program that has provided access to health care for well over 100 million Americans since it was created in 1965. As presidential candidate and former Florida Governor Jeb Bush made clear a few days ago, that dream is still alive.
While many Democrats and Medicare beneficiaries were making plans to celebrate the program’s 50th birthday last week—presidential candidate and Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont hailed it as a huge success during a speech at a rally of Medicare-for-All supporters outside the Capitol Thursday—Bush was telling a smaller but decidedly richer crowd at a Koch brothers gathering in New Hampshire that it was time for Medicare to go:
"We need to make sure we fulfill the commitment to people that have already received the benefits, that are receiving the benefits. But we need to figure out a way to phase out this program for others and move to a new system that allows them to have something, because they're not going to have anything."
Bush did not elaborate, either to explain why people in the future won’t have anything or to describe what a new system would look like.
But he was trotting out a tried-but-not-quite-true talking point, which holds that because Medicare costs continue to go up (no surprise when you consider our aging population and medical inflation), the country at some point in the future won’t be able to afford to cover health care costs for the elderly as we have for the last half century.