Saturday, August 01, 2009

They Opposed Medicare Too

by Rep. Rush Holt:

Although Medicare now is widely seen as a successful program for helping Americans access health care, it was very controversial when it was passed. The same arguments against health care reform today were made then. Some leaders from Bob Dole to Gerald Ford fought the program and voted against its creation.

Before Medicare was enacted, 44 percent of seniors were uninsured and, of those that had insurance, most had coverage only for hospital care. Before Medicare, seniors had limited choices for their health care. They could deplete their savings, seek assistance from their children, look for charity care, or forgo the medical care they needed.

Within 11 months after President Johnson signed Medicare into law, almost 20 million Americans had enrolled in the program. Medicare has virtually eliminated uninsurance among older Americans, and today fewer than one percent of those age 65 or older lack health insurance.

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