WASHINGTON, DC – Democratic Leader Harry Reid, Senator Ted Kennedy, and Senator Debbie Stabenow joined with 40 members of the Democratic Caucus today to celebrate the 40th anniversaries of Medicare and Medicaid. By proposing two concurrent resolutions, Democratic Senators have asked Congress to further support and strengthen the federal-state partnership that has made these programs such a success.
“Forty years ago this Saturday, President Lyndon Johnson signed Medicaid and Medicare into law, helping to guarantee to access to adequate medical care for America’s poor and senior citizens,” said Senator Reid. “President Johnson signed these programs into law in order to prevent many individuals from slipping further into poverty. Medicaid and Medicare have become vital parts of our nation’s healthcare system, and without them, millions more Americans would be uninsured. These programs deserve to be celebrated for their success, and strengthened so that they can continue to provide for millions of Americans into the future.”
Through the present day, Medicare and Medicaid have continued to serve vital roles in the American healthcare system. Medicare currently provides coverage to 42 million Americans, including over 35 million of the nation’s elderly. Medicaid currently provides health coverage to more than one in four of the nation’s children, and to one in five low-income women. During the economic downturns between 2001 and 2002, Medicaid saved 3 million Americans from entering the ranks of the uninsured.
“Today Medicare means good health for more than 42 million Americans while more than 50 million people who have nowhere else to turn for health care have Medicaid as their safety net. While the 40th anniversary should be a time to celebrate the progress we have made in improving the health of those who are less fortunate – but instead, we find ourselves defending Medicaid against harsh cuts that will destroy the health security of many of our fellow citizens,” said Senator Kennedy, Ranking Member of the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee. “We need to make it work for those it serves, especially the millions of low-income children who will grow up to healthy adults tomorrow, because we kept the faith with Medicaid today.”
“Medicare is a great American success story, and one of the most successful federal programs of all time,” said Senator Stabenow. “It has lifted countless seniors out of poverty, allowing them to live with dignity and independence. It has ensured access to necessary, affordable, quality medical care for our most vulnerable citizens. On Medicare’s 40th Anniversary, let’s celebrate its success and vow to build on this it, ensuring that our most vulnerable citizens will always have access to quality, affordable health care.”