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Rep. Yvette D. Clarke Highlights 45th Anniversary of Implementation

Today, Rep. Yvette Clarke announced that July 1st marks the 45th anniversary of the implementation of Medicare.  President Lyndon Johnson signed Medicare into law on July 30, 1965, and then on July 1, 1966, enrollees first entered the program.

“Creating Medicare was one of the proudest achievements of the Democratic Party,” stated Rep. Yvette D. Clarke.  “Medicare has transformed what it means to be elderly in this country. Many have forgotten what life was like in the United States before Medicare existed.”

In 1964, only 51 percent of Americans over 65 had health care coverage – whereas today, because of Medicare, coverage is virtually universal amongst those over 65. Medicare has played a pivotal role in the decreased poverty rate among seniors.  Nearly 30 percent of seniors lived below the poverty line in 1964 – and today that number has dropped to 7.5 percent.  Furthermore, Medicare has contributed greatly to the growth in life expectancy of Americans.

Despite the success and vast development of Medicare over the past 45 years, on April 15, 2011, House Republicans passed a budget that would end Medicare and replace it with a system where seniors get a voucher to go out and buy private insurance – with the result of reducing benefits and raising seniors’ costs.  Republicans argue that the Medicare program cannot be maintained and must be completely replaced.

“On this amazing day, the 45th anniversary of the implementation of Medicare, I reject the Republican view that the program must be scrapped and replaced with a new system that shifts costs to seniors,” said Rep. Yvette D. Clarke.  “Over the last 45 years, Democrats have fought vigorously to protect and strengthen Medicare.  We will continue to fight for Medicare in this country as it is an essential tool that provides reliable and affordable coverage for seniors and persons with disabilities.”