The 49th Anniversary of Medicaid and Medicare

This week marks the 49th Anniversary of Medicaid and Medicare. On July 30th, 1965 President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Medicare Bill into Law at the Harry S. Truman Library in order to improve the state of health care in the United States. Forty-five years later the Affordable Care Act was signed into law, but the hopes for Americans have not changed much since 1965.  Back  then, President Johnson noted,

“No longer will older Americans be denied the healing miracle of modern medicine. No longer will illness crush and destroy the savings that they have so carefully put away over a lifetime so that they might enjoy dignity in their later years. No longer will young families see their own incomes, and their own hopes, eaten away simply because they are carrying out their deep moral obligations to their parents, and to their uncles, and their aunts.”[1]

 Today, after four years of the signage of the Affordable Care Act, we still have American families that are not accessing the medical care they need because of lack of health insurance and the means to do so. The Deep South States are especially impacted as health outcomes continue to worsen and health disparities and poverty continue to increase.  In part this problem continues to exist because there are still states that have not expanded Medicaid.

Increase in Number of People with Insurance if Deep South States Expands Medicaid[2]
States that have not Expanded Medicaid (July 2014) People with Insurance Coverage in 2016
Alabama 235,000
Florida 848,000
Georgia 478,000
Louisiana 265,000
Mississippi 165,000
North Carolina 377,000
South Carolina 198,000
Tennessee 234,000
Texas 1,208,000

 

We must set a goal in order to reach Johnson’s original vision.  It would be so grand for our health system and overall well-being if we were to have Medicaid expanded in the 24 remaining states.  It would be to our collective benefit to cover all 5.7 million Americans who would be eligible for Medicaid but are currently deprived of health care.  I hope that for the 50th Anniversary, we will be celebrating the expansion of Medicaid in our home states in the South.

[1] Lyndon B. Johnson: “Remarks With President Truman at the Signing in Independence of the Medicare Bill.,” July 30, 1965. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project. http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/?pid=27123.

[2] Excerpts taken from Buettgens M. Kenney GM, and Recht H. “Eligibility for Assistance and Projected Changes in Coverage Under the ACA: Variation Across States.” Washington, DC. Urban Institute, 2014, http://www.urban.org/uploadedpdf/413129-Eligibility-for-Assistance-and-Projected-Changes-in-Coverage-Under-the-ACA-Variation-Across-States.pdf

Written By: Judith Montenegro.

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