(Jacobin) -- On July 30, 1965, Medicare was signed into law. In eleven months, 19 million Americans were automatically enrolled, half of whom were previously uninsured. And within that same transition period — as a direct result of the policy — every segregated hospital in the South took down their “Whites only” signs, integrating their services for the first time.
Medicare came in three parts: a universal hospital plan for the elderly (part A), voluntary doctor insurance for the elderly (part B), and a means-tested health care plan for the poor (Medicaid). At the age of sixty-five, virtually all Americans would become eligible for Medicare. Echoing the debut of Britain’s National Health Service, Lyndon B. Johnson framed Medicare “not as an act of charity, but as the insured right of a senior citizen.”
On its birthday, we must fiercely and proudly defend Medicare, while recognizing that its protection relies on expanding it to all.
Advertisement - story continues below