Medicare and Medicaid at 50

Medicare and Medicaid, the two mainstays of government health insurance, turn 50 this month, having made it possible for most Americans in poverty and old age to get medical care. While the Affordable Care Act fills the gap for people who don’t qualify for help from those two programs, there are important improvements still needed in both Medicare and Medicaid.

At the time the two programs were enacted in July 1965, advocates of Medicare, which today covers 46 million Americans over the age of 65 and nine million younger disabled people, expected that it would expand to cover virtually all Americans. Although polls between 1999 and 2009 showed consistent majorities in favor of expanding Medicare to people between the ages of 55 and 64 to cover more of the uninsured, it never happened.

– The New York Times

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