July 30 is the 50th birthday of Medicare, a program that is a cornerstone of retirement security in America. This landmark occasion is the perfect time to examine the legacy of the program and reflect upon the positive impact it has had on the lives and health of our nation’s retirees.
Before President Johnson signed Medicare into law in 1965, growing older often meant poverty and illness. Only half of our nation’s seniors had health insurance. While some retirees received health coverage through union contracts, millions more faced premiums as much as three times that paid by younger workers. Insurance was a luxury that many seniors simply couldn’t afford.