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On July 30, 1965, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Social Security Act Amendments of 1965 which established Medicare.


President Lyndon B. Johnson with Harry Truman and Hubert H. Humphrey, 1965

The Social Security Act Amendments provided:

In 1965, the passage of the Social Security Act Amendments, popularly known as Medicare, resulted in a basic program of hospital insurance for persons aged 65 and older, and a supplementary medical insurance program to aid the elderly in paying doctor bills and other health care bills. It was funded by a tax on the earnings of employees, matched by contributions by employers, and was well received. In the first three years of the program, nearly 20 million beneficiaries enrolled in it.

Debate over the program actually began two decades earlier when President Harry S. Truman sent a message to Congress asking for legislation establishing a national health insurance plan. At that time, vocal opponents warned of the dangers of “socialized medicine.” By the end of the Truman’s administration, he had backed off from a plan of universal coverage, but administrators in the Social Security system and others began to focus on the idea of a program aimed at insuring Social Security beneficiaries whose numbers and needs were growing.

Lyndon B. Johnson, Democratic president, following up on the work of Harry S Truman, Democratic president, and providing health care security to our senior citizens.

President Lyndon B. Johnson Signing Medicare into Law on July 30, 1965

Remarks from former President Truman and President Johnson at the signing ceremony in Independence Missouri:

PRESIDENT TRUMAN:
This is an important hour for the Nation, for those of our citizens who have completed their tour of duty and have moved to the sidelines. These are the days that we are trying to celebrate for them. These people are our prideful responsibility and they are entitled, among other benefits, to the best medical protection available.

Not one of these, our citizens, should ever be abandoned to the indignity of charity. Charity is indignity when you have to have it. But we don't want these people to have anything to do with charity and we don't want them to have any idea of hopeless despair.

Mr. President, I am glad to have lived this long and to witness today the signing of the Medicare bill which puts this Nation right where it needs to be, to be right. Your inspired leadership and a responsive forward-looking Congress have made it historically possible for this day to come about.

PRESIDENT JOHNSON:
The people of the United States love and voted for Harry Truman, not because he gave them hell--but because he gave them hope.

I believe today that all America shares my joy that he is present now when the hope that he offered becomes a reality for millions of our fellow citizens.

I am so proud that this has come to pass in the Johnson administration. But it was really Harry Truman of Missouri who planted the seeds of compassion and duty which have today flowered into care for the sick, and serenity for the fearful.

Many men can make many proposals. Many men can draft many laws. But few have the piercing and humane eye which can see beyond the words to the people that they touch. Few can see past the speeches and the political battles to the doctor over there that is tending the infirm, and to the hospital that is receiving those in anguish, or feel in their heart painful wrath at the injustice which denies the miracle of healing to the old and to the poor. And fewer still have the courage to stake reputation, and position, and the effort of a lifetime upon such a cause when there are so few that share it.

But it is just such men who illuminate the life and the history of a nation. And so, President Harry Truman, it is in tribute not to you, but to the America that you represent, that we have come here to pay our love and our respects to you today. For a country can be known by the quality of the men it honors. By praising you, and by carrying forward your dreams, we really reaffirm the greatness of America.

It was a generation ago that Harry Truman said, and I quote him: "Millions of our citizens do not now have a full measure of opportunity to achieve and to enjoy good health. Millions do not now have protection or security against the economic effects of sickness. And the time has now arrived for action to help them attain that opportunity and to help them get that protection."

Well, today, Mr. President, and my fellow Americans, we are taking such action--20 years later.

House Minority Leader and future Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi on the 47th Anniversary of the signing:
“Forty-seven years ago, Democrats created Medicare and Medicaid; over nearly half a century, we have sustained them; now and into the future, we will protect them.”

“Democrats believe that Medicare is a bedrock promise: after a lifetime of work, seniors deserve the security Medicare provides. Yet Republicans are determined to end Medicare as we know it, passing plans that turns Medicare from a guaranteed benefit program into a privatized voucher program, ultimately increasing seniors’ health care costs by thousands of dollars a year.

“Democrats will defend Medicare from any attempts to end it and ensure it remains strong for seniors today for future generations.”

Caring about our seniors, in 1965 and in 2012 ... another reason I Vote For Democrats and why you should too.

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Originally posted to I Vote for Democrats on Thu Aug 02, 2012 at 02:00 PM PDT.

Also republished by Realistrati and Jews For President Obama.

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