Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Celebrating Medicare’s Anniversary

43 years ago, President Lyndon Johnson signed Medicare legislation into law not only for the elderly but also for younger generations who care for them. Before Medicare, half of all seniors had no health insurance and nearly 35% lived in poverty. Today senior poverty has dropped by two-thirds and all Americans 65 and older can get health insurance through the Medicare program. Medicare works.

But as Lynda Johnson Robb reminded us at our 25th Anniversary celebration in June, her father knew "Medicare would have to be carefully guarded and improved through the generations".

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Unfortuntely, the privatization of Medicare has neither improved nor carefully guarded the program's core mission to provide equitable and dependable healthcare coverage for America's retirees and the disabled. In fact, massive industry subsidies to private insurers, means-testing, higher premiums and the unchecked costs of healthcare threaten the program.

But there have been some signs that the policy and fiscal truths of the Medicare Modernization Act can no longer be ignored. Our President/CEO, Barbara Kennelly hopes next year's Medicare anniversary will be celebrated in a very different political landscape in Washington:

“The Congressional Medicare veto override and vote to delay arbitrary cuts show Congress has the courage to reconsider these destructive privatization provisions written by and for the drug and insurance industries. Our members hope that with a new Congress and President in the White House we’ll be able to celebrate next year’s anniversary and the end of Medicare privatization at the same time.

This privatization, which was accelerated by the 2003 Medicare Modernization Act, has left seniors saddled with rising premiums, growing out of pocket costs and means testing at a time when they are already feeling the effects of an economic downturn. We must reverse the privatization politics of the past in favor of real policy solutions providing healthcare reform nationwide and strengthening our one universal healthcare plan – Medicare.”
Barbara B. Kennelly, President/CEO

1 comment:

Darlene said...

This is an excellent article. We must stick together and insist that the creeping privatization of Medicare be halted and reversed.

I am green with envy at the very professional appearance of this blog. Kudos!