10:29 AM Eastern - Friday, June 3, 2011

Medicare = Health, Security, Dignity #the-healthcare-law

The National Institutes of Health, along with the Surgeon General and the Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare, meet to discuss the passage of the Medicare Bill in 1965.

PHOTO: NIH, along with the Surgeon General and the Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare, meet to discuss the passage of the Medicare Bill in 1965. CREDIT: National Institutes of Health Library via Flickr

True or false: Less than 50 years ago, the majority of seniors in this country were unable to pay their medical bills.

Believe it or not, this is.... true.

Before 1965, two-thirds of retired Americans had no healthcare insurance at all and even those that did frequently had insurance that covered only a small fraction of their cost of care.

In 1959, a Detroit retired autoworker testified before the Senate Subcommittee on Problems of the Aged and Aging to shed some light on the difficulty he and fellow seniors faced paying for medical care:

"We retired workers are very proud of being citizens of the greatest country in the world, but ... we cannot think it is the greatest possible country when about 65 percent of the aged do not have any insurance to deal with their needs for hospitalization and medical care. Without such insurance, the retired person must pretty much exhaust any savings he has before he can get free hospitalization.

"This is a constant source of worry. Many of my acquaintances will not visit a doctor for minor illness because they have no money to pay for drugs. After they exhaust their savings they go on welfare to get medical aid, but then, in many cases, it is too late."

National outrage over high medical bills bankrupting seniors and forcing them to live in poverty played a huge role in Medicare's creation in 1965. A little under half a century later, we need to summon that outrage once again if we're going to have a fighting chance to preserve the decades of progress we've made in guaranteeing secure, affordable healthcare now and in the future.

GOP Budget Would Take It Away

Congress is considering a budget with devastating cuts to Medicare and Medicaid and the older Americans that rely on these programs for their healthcare. And lest anyone forget just how determined House Republicans are to end Medicare as we know it, they took a vote on it again on Wednesday.

Just a few (of many) negative points on the GOP budget we'd like to stress here:

  • By privatizing Medicare and giving seniors fixed "vouchers" for their healthcare, the Republican budget plan would dismantle a strong, low-cost, guaranteed program and shift higher costs onto seniors no guarantees.
  • This spells big profits for insurance companies and disaster for older Americans who have worked hard all of their lives and are counting on the secure, affordable healthcare Medicare delivers today.
  • In addition, this same budget would take away the benefits and protections of the Affordable Care Act--including provisions that require no co-payments for preventative services, free annual visits, and closing the donut hole.


We all want a more secure financial future for our country. But how does giving $40 billion in tax breaks to Big Oil and balancing the budget on the backs of seniors who have worked hard all of their lives make any sense?

These draconian cuts would sacrifice our healthcare, our kids' education and our life savings to further lower taxes for the richest in the country.

With more than 2.1 million working families, including thousands of nursing home workers and homecare workers who care for seniors every day, we're urging Americans of all ages to stand up and fight to protect Medicare....

→ Learn more about what the Affordable Care Act does for seniors.

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