Medicare Turns 50!

On this date in 1965 President Johnson signed Medicare into law. Fun fact: at the signing ceremony, President Johnson enrolled President Truman as the first beneficiary of Medicare. Today this publicly funded health care system continues to lift millions out of poverty. 50 years since being signed into law and Medicare is the nation’s largest and most successful health insurance program, providing quality healthcare and financial security to over 55 million Americans. 

Medicare deserves our celebration! Medicare contributes to higher life expectancy and has dramatically reduced poverty among seniors. Since it’s creation 50 years ago, Medicare has been integral to economic justice in communities historically underserved. According to the Medicare Turns 50 LA Coalition:

The 1964 Civil Rights Act made discrimination in federally funded programs illegal, which meant that after Medicare was enacted, hospitals and other facilities that wished to receive Medicare reimbursement had to integrate. More than 1,000 hospitals opened their doors to black patients and extended physician privileges to black doctors in order to receive Medicare funding. Additionally, black medical and nursing students won access to physician and nurse training programs.

The passage of Medicare marked a key milestone in women’s economic security and a major contribution to reducing income equality in old age between men and women. Currently 56 percent of elderly Medicare beneficiaries are women.

Medicare consistently provides a vital service, and recent reports show that cost projections for the program have gone down dramatically. In spite of the evidence, Medicare has consistently been under attack by right wing ideologues who peddle falsehoods about out of control spending. Studies have shown that Medicare actually much more cost effective than private health insurance. A 2013 Medicare Trustee’s Report, stated that Medicare spends about 1.6 percent on overhead whereas their counterparts in the private insurance industry spend around 18 percent on overhead expenses like advertising, Wall Street investments, and CEO pay. Ignoring this information, conservatives have made proposals to raise the eligibility age, privatize benefits, and turn Medicare into a voucher system. These proposals would only raise the cost of healthcare for seniors in America and endanger health and financial security for millions.  

On June 12, the House voted 126-302 to reject a measure that would have cut Medicare funding to extend a program to help retrain workers. Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) said, “Medicare is not an ATM machine to be used by the House or Senate looking for an offset. “The President and Congress need to stop tampering with it. 

Working folks across California are fighting back. Coalitions of labor unions, healthcare providers, and community allies are committed to protecting, improving, and expanding Medicare.

Celebrate Medicare Turns 50!


Los Angeles:


What:  National Day of Action Rally for the 50th Anniversary of Medicare featuring live music, entertainment, and a slice of apple pie for all attendees. 

When: Thursday, July 30, 2015, 4:00 – 6:30 p.m.     

Where: Los Angeles Trade Tech College, 400 W. Washington Blvd., Los Angeles



What: Medicare 50th Birthday Rally & March

Where: Frank Ogawa Plaza, Oakland

When: Thursday, July 30th at 11am