POV: Celebrating a birth, anticipating a rebirth, Barbara Estrin, Riverdale Press

By Barbara Estrin, July 28, 2019

Happy 54th birthday, Medicare! You increase our life expectancy and quality of life. You’re our most trusted health care program.

We want to extend the gift of life you have given us down through the generations — for our children and grandchildren — now.

President Lyndon B. Johnson signed you into law on July 30, 1965. Millions of elderly Americans were dying, unseen by doctors, either unable to afford health insurance, or denied it because of pre-existing conditions.

To get you passed, Johnson compromised, guaranteeing for-profit insurers a continued role in Medicare and in the federal-state partnership of Medicaid, created at the same time. Pharmaceutical companies also got a win: a drug plan for seniors got scrapped.

Within 11 months (all records kept on paper and transported to the U.S. Postal Service), 19 million elderly Americans got Medicare cards, starting with Harry Truman, on July 1, 1966.

A federal agency, with only a handful of staff, was tasked with certifying full integration across more than 1,700 hospitals….

  • Racial disparities — health justice ...
  • Bad fixes in Medicare ...
  • Fraud control: Multi-payer upcharging ...

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