In 1945, President Harry Truman sent a message to Congress asking for legislation establishing a national health insurance plan, which created uproar. At the end of Truman’s administration, he’d backed off the idea for universal coverage. Two decades of debate ensued because opponents, like the American Medical Association, warned of the dangers of “socialized medicine.” Yet, administrators in the Social Security system and other leaders remained focused on the idea that such a program would benefit older Americans.
On July 30, 1965, President Lyndon Baines Johnson signed the Medicare and Medicaid programs into law in Independence, Missouri, at the Truman Library. For $3 per month, people 65 and older were told that they could sign up for Medicare Part B. The first to enroll? Former President Truman. So what has happened to a program that was supposed to provide senior citizens with excellent health care from our country’s physicians? (more…)