Medicare and Medicaid — a tarnished triumph

(By – Robert J. Samuelson,

It was exactly 50 years ago this week that President Lyndon B. Johnson flew to Independence, Mo., and, with former president Harry Truman at his side, signed into law the legislation creating Medicare and Medicaid. It was a seminal moment in U.S. political history. For three decades, liberals and conservatives had warred over government health insurance. “Medicare was a deeply divisive issue,” said Yale University political scientist Theodore Marmor in an interview. Until 1965, a coalition of Republicans, conservative Democrats and the American Medical Association — which attacked what it called “socialized medicine” — had prevailed. In 1935, President Franklin D. Roosevelt had omitted health insurance from the Social Security legislation for fear that AMA opposition would doom the entire bill. In the late 1940s, Truman pressed unsuccessfully for national insurance. Little changed in the ’50s and early ’60s. Read more…


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