Happy Birthday Medicare!

Dave Johnson

Today is the 48th birthday of Medicare!

President Johnson signing the Medicare program into law, July 30, 1965. Photo credit: LBJ Presidential Library.

Before Medicare only half of older Americans had any health insurance at all. The elderly had on average half the income of younger people, but the policies cost on average three times as much. Now around 50 million Americans are covered — both the elderly and the disabled. Medicare is democracy: all Americans that meet the requirements are eligible regardless of income.

Medicare has been of such obvious benefit to Americans that it is just understood as an essential program and, slong with Social Security, is one of the great successes of our government and our democracy.

Next Step: Medicare At 55

The obvious next step for Medicare is to lower the age of eligibility to 55. This will benefit the country in two ways. It will bring the average cost per Medicare beneficiary way down, because people between 55 and 65 require much less medical care and are therefore less expensive than people 65 and older. In the same way, it will greatly lower the cost of private insurance because the people who are 55 and older are the most expensive people in the private insurance pools! Billions of dollars now spent on these private plans and subsidies in the soon-to-begin Obamacare will then be available to the economy for more productive uses.

Reagan: “Imposition Of Socialism”

Just like “Obamacare,” Medicare was not without its fanatical opponents. And just like Obamacare its opponents were not above using the worst kind of paranoid, unhinged scare tactics imaginable. (“Death panels?”)

The following is Ronald Reagan’s 1961 recording, “Ronald Reagan Speaks Out Against Socialized Medicine,” explaining how Medicare is the imposition of socialism under the disguise of American liberalism. Reagan said Medicare would “curtail Americans’ freedom” and “”One of the traditional methods of imposing statism or socialism on a people has been by way of medicine.”

So, how did that whole Medicare “imposition of socialism” thing work out for America?

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