Medicare anniversary a time to reflect on value of program
Medicare’s 49th anniversary, July 30, should be a moment to reflect on what Medicare and Medicaid coverage and benefits have provided for its beneficiaries; seniors, the disabled and low-income individuals and families over the years.
This government-run program has provided health care for most 65 and over seniors and the disabled. Without a doubt, it has prevented its beneficiaries from living with untreated illnesses and conditions that could bring about a life of poverty, shortened life span, and lessened quality of life for individuals and their families.
Administrative costs for Medicare are less than that of for-profits which spend millions of dollars to protect their interests including preventing the federal government from bulk buying of prescription drugs like the Veterans Administration has done successfully. Medicare Advantage plans are now required to spend at least 85 percent on direct beneficiary care, which has helped recently to lower the yearly average cost of all Medicare coverage by $1,000.
Government-run Medicare for all would be the ideal. But in the meantime, we must protect and preserve Medicare and Medicaid as we currently know it, along with Social Security. From Rep. John Conyers, Jr. (D-Michigan) press release, “As we celebrate Medicare’s birthday today, it is suitable to pause and remember the signing of the Medicare Act, which took place at the Truman Library in Independence, Mo., on this day 48 years ago, and what Lyndon Johnson said: ‘No longer will older Americans be denied the healing miracle of modern medicine. No longer will illness crush and destroy the savings they have so carefully put away over a lifetime so that they might enjoy dignity in their later years.’
By enacting H.R. 676, this could be the reality for every American.”
The writer is president of the Capital District Alliance for Retired Americans.