Medicare and Medicaid Turn 50

"Today we celebrate 50 years of Medicare and Medicaid, and continue the fight to expand healthcare for all!" Credi: OPA

“Today we celebrate 50 years of Medicare and Medicaid, and continue the fight to expand healthcare for all!”  Credit: OPA

Across the Bronx and other parts of the City, elected officials and grateful New Yorkers celebrated the 50th Anniversary of Medicare and Medicaid which was signed into law by President Johnson on July 30, 1965 as an amendment to the Social Security Act of 1939.

The original bill-signing ceremony took place at the Truman Library in Independence, Missouri to pay homage to former President Harry Truman who tried to do the same thing during his administration.  On that day, former President Truman was enrolled as Medicare’s first beneficiary and received the first Medicare card.

“Fifty years ago our government passed landmark legislation to protect our most vulnerable through the unprecedented step of providing  health care to seniors, people with disabilities and low-income families,” said Congressman Serrano.

Medicare and Medicaid were founded on a simple idea- that no one should have to go broke or lack access to adequate health care due to their health care history or income. Since then, millions of individuals and families have benefitted from the preventive care and treatment these two programs provide.

“President Lyndon Johnson signed Medicare and Medicaid into law under the principles that access to health care is a right, not a privilege, and no one should be forced into poverty because of health care costs.  No programs have improved the lives of Americans more over the last 50 years,” said Rep. Eliot Engel.

Countless people and families in the Bronx, are enrolled in Medicaid and Medicare and have peace of mind in knowing that they don’t have to worry about being able to access affordable health care they or their families may need. “Thanks to this achievement, hundreds of thousands of lives have been saved and Americans’ quality of life has improved,” said Congressman Serrano.

Together, Medicare and Medicaid provide health care benefits to millions of the most vulnerable individuals in the nation: seniors, the poor, and the severely disabled.  The two programs have helped to successfully reduce the poverty rate among older Americans from 28.5% in 1966 to 9% today and relieve the economic burden facing millions of low-income families.

“For 50 years, Medicare and Medicaid have been a true American success story. We made a promise to our seniors five decades ago to never forget them or the value of their lives, and we have done a remarkable job in keeping that promise.  Let’s continue to maintain our unwavering commitment to our seniors by strengthening and improving Medicare and Medicaid, so that these amazing programs will remain viable for future generations, said Rep. Engel”

Rep. Joe Crowley added, “We have moved so far from the days when seniors were going without health care because they couldn’t afford insurance, and from the days when working families worried about how to get health care for their children.

Rep Crowley_Happy Birthday Medicare-Medicaid

“With Medicare and Medicaid, we made a promise that we will take care of those who need health care the most – a promise we continued with the Affordable Care Act, but our work is far from done,” said Crowley.

Congressman Serrano took the opportunity hit Republicans in Congress for insisting on getting rid of Obamacare, which extended the life of the Medicare Trust Fund for thirteen more years and further expanded access to quality affordable health care. “We can’t allow Republicans to get away with their plans, and leave low-income seniors and families without health care. Congress should be working towards strengthening and expanding Medicare and Medicaid,” he said.

On Twitter, Public Advocate Tish James tweeted, “Today we celebrate 50 years of Medicare and Medicaid, and continue the fight to expand healthcare for all!”

Congressional candidate Adam C. Powell IV took the opportunity to send out a fundraising email reminding supporters that his ” Dad [Congressman Adam Clayton Powell Jr.] was a driving force behind this landmark legislation and was very proud of this achievement.” Let many pols today, Powell VI reminded donors that some in Congress want to phase out Medicare and Medicaid and “eliminate them altogether.”

[This post has been updated to include Rep. Joe Crowley’s statement and photograph.]
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