The idea of a national health care program like Medicare was first introduced to Congress in the early twentieth century. A model health plan was brought up a few times through the years until 1965, when Medicare was officially passed into law on July 30th. President Lyndon B. Johnson presented the very first Medicare card to Harry S. Truman at a public ceremony in Independence, MO. Medicare services began a year later in July of 1966. 19 million Americans were covered under Medicare health insurance beginning that day. President Nixon extended the coverage to those who were long term disabled.
Medicare Part C (or Medicare Advantage) started in 1997, bringing private insurance plans into the market place. In 2003, coverage for prescription drug coverage became included as an addition to Medicare that took effect in 2006.
Medicare has gone through many milestones over the decades, and here is a timeline for the most significant ones:
1945: President Truman makes proposes a national health insurance program in 1947 and 1949. Bills are introduced in Congress, but legislators do not act on them.
1961: President Kennedy convenes with a task force who recommends creating a national health insurance program for those over the age of 65. Kennedy gives a televised speech about the need for Medicare in 1962.
1964: Congress is called to take the necessary action to create Medicare by President Johnson.
1965: Legislation for both Medicare and Medicaid (health care services for those with lower income) is passed with votes of 70-24 in the Senate and 307-116 in the House of Representatives. President Johnson passed the bill into law as part of the Social Security Amendments of 1965 on July 30.
1966: Medicare services actually went into effect on July 1 of this year, and 19 million Americans aged 65 and older enrolled in the program.
1972: President Nixon extended the eligibility for Medicare to those who were under the age of 65, but have long-term disabilities or end-stage renal disease.
1997: Private insurance plans — originally called Medicare+Choice or Part C, later renamed Medicare Advantage — begin. Beneficiaries now have the option to choose an HMO-style Medicare plan instead of the traditional fee-for-service Medicare program.
2003: President George W. Bush signs the Medicare Modernization Act on December 8 and thus establishes what we know as Part B, or the prescription drug benefit.
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