When President Lyndon Johnson signed a law on July 30, 1965, creating Medicare and Medicaid, it had withstood withering controversy reminiscent of the debate surrounding the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.
Foes in Congress and the influential American Medical Association warned that Medicare would create “socialized medicine” and erode freedom. Today, millions of people are covered by Medicare and Medicaid, and most Americans can’t imagine a future without Medicare. That federal program covers the elderly and disabled, while Medicaid, a jointly funded federal-state program, mainly covers poor people, low-income pregnant women and elderly Americans in nursing homes.
As the 50th anniversary of the law is touted at the LBJ Presidential Library in Austin, here are some key facts about Medicare and Medicaid, by the numbers:
8.2 million: Texans enrolled in Medicare or Medicaid — 30 percent of the state’s population.
10,000: Americans will become eligible for Medicare every day over the next 20 years.
$613 billion: Medicare spending last year.
$12,432: Average Medicare benefit per person enrolled.
3 of 5: Nursing home residents using Medicaid to cover the cost of their care.
1 in 2: Americans 65 and older who lacked health insurance before Medicare.
35 percent: Elderly Americans who were living in poverty before Medicare became law.
1 in 2: Texas babies whose births are covered by Medicaid.
2003: Year President George W. Bush signed into law a landmark prescription drug benefit for Medicare recipients. Seniors were given drug discount cards until the benefit — the largest expansion of Medicare — took effect in 2006.
Sources: The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and the Center for Public Policy Priorities