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Medicare and Medicaid Turn 50

by Payal Mehta

Yesterday marked the 50th Anniversary of Medicare, the nation’s first national health insurance program. As soon as President Johnson signed it in 1965, 20 million Americans were immediately covered, and today that has grown to over 54 million.

To celebrate, events were held in Washington, D.C., and around the nation. In Washington, the day started with a rally in the Senate Park hosted by National Nurses United (NNU). The rally featured speakers like Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Executive Director of NNU RoseAnn DeMoro, and Representative Donna Edwards (D-Md.). Click here to watch a video of the rally.

Senator Sanders spoke passionately about expanding Medicare to cover everyone as a single-payer national health care program. Not only did he and the other speakers want to expand Medicare, but to improve it too by protecting it from further privatization threats.

Later in the afternoon a panel hosted by Representative John Conyers (D-Mich.) that Public Citizen helped organize honed in on the expansion and improvement of Medicare as well. The panel featured a riveting conversation between members of Congress and advocates for universal health care. To view the panel celebration, click this link. Public Citizen’s own President Robert Weissman eloquently enlightened us about the harsh reality that we are in and what we need to do advance single-payer Medicare for All in the United States.

Don Berwick, the former administrator of the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services, wasn’t able to attend, but sent a message conveying his support for a Medicare-for-all single-payer system. Click this link to view the video.

Transforming our wasteful, for-profit health care system into a Medicare-for-all, single-payer system will is vital to close many inherent problems plaguing ordinary people in the United States. The health care advocate for Public Citizen’s Congress Watch division, Vijay Das, and writer and physician Adam Gaffney touch on these very issues with their recent CNN Opinion Op-Ed “Racial injustice still rife in healthcare.”

With this enthusiasm, I am confident that Public Citizen and others will build and grow the Expand and Improve Medicare for All movement into the future.

Payal Mehta is a legal health policy extern at Public Citizen’s Congress Watch division