Posted by | August 1, 2009 13:48 | Filed under: Top Stories

This past week marked the 44th anniversary of Medicare.  A walk down memory lane (via Think Progress) reminds us that the same arguments used now against getting more people coverage were used then.


Ronald Reagan: “[I]f you don’t [stop Medicare] and I don’t do it, one of these days you and I are going to spend our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children what it once was like in America when men were free.” [1961]

 

George H.W. Bush: Described Medicare in 1964 as “socialized medicine.” [1964]

 

Barry Goldwater: “Having given our pensioners their medical care in kind, why not food baskets, why not public housing accommodations, why not vacation resorts, why not a ration of cigarettes for those who smoke and of beer for those who drink.” [1964]

 

Bob Dole: In 1996, while running for the Presidency, Dole openly bragged that he was one of 12 House members who voted against creating Medicare in 1965. “I was there, fighting the fight, voting against Medicare . . . because we knew it wouldn’t work in 1965.” [1965]

 

Marie Cocco shows us how, contrary to what some conservatives would have you believe, Medicare has been a success.  Along with Social Security and the military, there is proof that the government doesn’t bungle everything it does.


Beginning in 1997, the growth in Medicare’s cost per beneficiary has been slower than the cost escalation in coverage delivered by private insurers. Between 2002 and 2006, for example, Medicare’s cost per beneficiary rose 5.4 percent, while per-capita costs in private insurance rose 7.7 percent, according to MedPAC, an independent agency charged with advising Congress on Medicare issues.

 

So why would Congress create a new health insurance system that doesn’t have a Medicare-like public plan for consumers to purchase?

 

Because conservatives, Democrats among them, never let the facts get in the way of their ideology. The Senate, in particular, seems intent on creating a new private health insurance “cooperative” that has never been tested, has no track record of delivering quality coverage at an affordable price, and which consumers would have to learn to navigate.

 

Half the elderly in America had no health insurance when Lyndon Johnson signed Medicare into law on July 30, 1965.  One third lived in poverty.  Medicare helped alleviate both those problems.

 

Now the elderly are among the best-insured Americans, with upward of 95 percent covered by Medicare. The rate of poverty among those 65 and older is under 10 percent. The decline in elderly poverty began with the creation of Social Security — but it accelerated, according to Census Bureau data, only after Medicare coverage began.

 

Medicare isn’t perfect.  But we’re far better off as a country for having it.  If Democrats weren’t so cowed by being called “socialists,” they’d use Medicare as a model for insuring the rest of America.

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Copyright 2009 Liberaland
By: Alan

Alan Colmes is the publisher of Liberaland.