Happy 45th Birthday Medicare

Forty-five years ago, President Lyndon Johnson signed Medicare into law–making a bedrock promise to seniors then and for generations to follow:

President Johnson signs Medicare

Sitting by President Johnson’s side on July 30th, 1965 was President Truman, who that same day became the first Medicare beneficiary and was presented with the first Medicare card. President Truman also applied for Medicare Part B with President Johnson as his witness:

Truman enrolls

Under health reform signed into law earlier this year, Medicare is strengthened and beneficiaries will see more benefits, like free preventative care and lower prescription drug costs. Andy Griffith talks about some of the new benefits in the Affordable Care Act:

In addition to more benefits and lower costs, the Affordable Care Act also preserves Medicare's solvency for years to come–what the Affordable Care Act means for Medicare:

Seniors guaranteed Medicare benefits will remain the same.

Medicare beneficiaries who hit the prescription drug “donut hole” will receive a one-time, $250 rebate check. Hundreds of thousands of seniors have already received their check. And the donut hole will be closed completely by 2020.

Preventive care services like colorectal cancer screenings and mammograms and an annual physical will be provided free of charge.

Medicare pays Medicare Advantage insurance companies over $1,000 more per person on average than Original Medicare. These additional payments are paid for in part by increased premiums by all Medicare beneficiaries–including the 77% of seniors not enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan. The new law eliminates these overpayments and starting in 2014, Medicare Advantage plans will be required to spend 85% of every dollar they receive on health care, not profits, overhead or administrative costs.

By 2018, seniors will save an average of $200 per year and $200 in co-insurance compared to what they would have paid without reform.

The new law extends the life of the Medicare Trust Fund by more than a decade.

Speaker Pelosi on today’s anniversary:

In enacting health insurance reform this year, Democrats in Congress and President Obama followed in the footsteps of the architects of Medicare and strengthened this critical initiative for our country's seniors. The law secures guaranteed benefits under Medicare, and closes the prescription drug 'donut hole,' beginning with $250 checks being sent to beneficiaries this year. Our reforms eliminate co-pays for preventive screenings and provide better-coordinated care among different doctors and health care providers. And we have extended the solvency of Medicare by more than a decade.

Forty-five years ago today, Democrats and Republicans came together to create Medicare and Medicaid. Unfortunately, that bipartisan tradition has now been lost, as Congressional Republicans not only oppose improvements to our seniors' health care system, but pledge to repeal them and end Medicare as we know it — leaving seniors on their own to negotiate with insurance companies for coverage. Democrats will not let this happen. We will stand with America's seniors to protect and strengthen Medicare now and in the future.

When President Lyndon Johnson signed Medicare into law in 1965, our nation made a bedrock promise to seniors then and for generations to follow: that after a lifetime of work, Americans could count on the stability and security of reliable, dependable, high-quality health insurance. And by passing Medicaid, we worked to ensure that no American family could be denied medical care due to a lack of means or income.

Today, the New Direction Congress continues to uphold, extend, and strengthen this same legacy, reaffirming our pledge to promote the general welfare, serve the common good, and preserve the health and well-being of the American people.

Learn more about how the Affordable Care Act works for Seniors:

Getting the Facts on the Affordable Care Act & Medicare»

Guide for Seniors»

Strengthening Medicare»

Medicare Part D/Closing the Donut Hole»

Curbing Taxpayer Subsidies for Medicare Advantage»

Visit Medicare.gov»

Visit HealthCare.gov»