Commentary by Bob Adams
On July 30, 1965, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Medicare and Medicaid programs into law. Thus was the beginning of the CMS, or the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services. The signing ceremony was held at the Truman Library in Independence, Mo. with former President Harry Truman at his side. Truman being present was significant, for it was Truman that introduced the concept of Medicare during his presidency. However, this was not the first effort for government health insurance.
In 1906, a group of 3,000 reform-minded leaders from a wide range of professional backgrounds set out to provide workers with health coverage. This group was known as the American Association of Labor Legislation, founded by a group of economists from the University of Wisconsin. By 1915, 30 states had signed workman’s compensation into law.
During the robust economic years of the 20s and the depressed years of the 30s, there was little attention given to government sponsored health programs, not for lack of trying, but for lack of interest. Then, in 1939, the Social Security Board began lengthy discussion of a National Health Program. However, WWII was clearly a distraction. But in his state of the union address in 1943, President Franklin Roosevelt spoke of a social insurance system that extended “from the cradle to the grave.” Thus the discussions began, but because of the war, that is all that happened.
Enter President Truman who more aggressively championed the idea of government-sponsored health care. However, the results of the 1946 Congressional elections created road blocks as the new Congress was antagonistic to the administration’s programs, including the high-priority health insurance proposal. A third and final attempt to pass government health insurance failed in 1950. Yet the groundwork had been laid, and by the early 60s, sentiment was shifting. Public opinion was favorable and the mountains of mail from the public swayed political opinion.
There were countless numbers of committee meetings and votes, too many to recount here, but the end result was the signing of Medicare into law on July 30, 1965. Harry Truman’s dream became a reality and a staple of our current day living. There are more than 48 million people on Medicare today with nearly 8,000 aging into the program every day. Happy 50th birthday, Medicare.
Bob Adams is the owner of Robert Adams Insurance in Noblesville. For more information, visit www.robertadamsinsurance.com or call 402-3171.