Ironic that we should mark the 46th birthday of the Medicare program the same weekend as we’re watching Republicans – abetted, it appears, by the Obama administration – make their strongest push to kill it (along with Social Security, Medicaid, and a host of other social programs).
Medicare covers more than 35 million people, with administrative costs in line with, or even below, those of the private sector. The Republicans moved to cripple the program by sending costs higher in 2003, when, in the middle of the night, with much arm-twisting, they passed a “reform” bill that, in the provision for prescription drugs, specifically forbade Medicare from negotiating prices with drug companies. This, of course, adds to the current deficit, the thing Rs used to claim didn’t matter but is now their lever for destroying America’s social safety net.
Harry and Bess Truman, at Johnson’s left in this photo, were the first two Americans to enroll in the program. Wonder what Give-`Em-Hell Harry or LBJ might have done to the Rs were either of them president now.