Schakowsky Celebrates the 50th Anniversary of Medicare and Medicaid

July 30, 2015
Press Release

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, 50 years ago, on July 30, 1965, President Lyndon Johnson signed Medicare and Medicaid into law.  Rep. Jan Schakowsky released the following statement in celebration of the special anniversary:

“Virtually every family in America either has relied, is relying or will rely on Medicare and Medicaid – my family included. As we celebrate this special anniversary, I asked my constituents to share with me their views – and here is what I heard from Rhoda, who described Medicare and Medicaid as the ‘two heroes’ in her mother’s life.

‘I shudder to think what my mom's last months would have been like without Medicare and Medicaid. She could not afford private care, my sister lived a distance away and my own small house has stairs and many tight spaces my mom never could have maneuvered around in. She would have been bed bound and very unhappy if she had to stay with me. Medicare and Medicaid made all the difference in the world to one old and dying lady, her children, and her grandchildren. Everyone deserves basic and decent care in their last days. Please don't take this away from the many others like my mom who also deserve a good life all the way till the end.’

What a heartfelt story, and there are millions just like Rhoda’s mother. Today, more than 1 in 3 Americans are covered by Medicare and Medicaid.  Medicare provides guaranteed health care to 55 million people – including more than 46 million seniors and 9 million non-elderly people with disabilities.  A majority people receiving Medicare are women.  Nearly 70 million children, adults, and seniors are covered by Medicaid.  Medicaid gives kids a healthy start in life – and covers 1 in 3 children and 45 percent of all births.  It is the single largest payer of mental health services.  And it pays for 40 percent of the nation’s long-term care costs: home- and community-based long-term care services and nursing homes.

We can make Medicare and Medicaid even better but we must never erode their protections.  That’s why I so strongly oppose Republican proposals to cut benefits, shift more costs onto the backs of older Americans and families, raise the age of eligibility, or take away access.  The Republican budget resolution passed this year would turn Medicare into a voucher program and put insurance companies in charge.  It would eliminate Medicaid expansion – taking away health care from over 16 million individuals – and includes additional Medicaid cuts of $500 billion.  Those are cuts seniors and American families simply cannot afford.  Instead, we need to make Medicare and Medicaid even better – for this and for future generations. 

So, as we take time to celebrate this important 50th anniversary. I will continue to fight for high-quality, more affordable health and long-term care for all our families.”

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