Medicare. 52 years ago this week, it became a reality for millions of Americans, By an overwhelming majority on July 28, the Medicare bill passed Congress and headed to President Johnson for signature. On July 30 it was signed into law and would be effective on September 1, 1965.
Ironic, that 52 years later, Congress voted to repeal Affordable Healthcare, and in doing so, gut much of what Medicare had set out to accomplish. And almost 52 years to the day, Congress rejected that attempt to repeal, the last (or latest, depending on who you ask) attempt by the current Congress to slash and dismantle something that had been talked about, debated over, brought up, drafted and ultimately voted down since 1909, but which had finally passed.
Far from the Perfect Law, The Affordable Care Act was meant to be a boilerplate – a start; a foundation on which to build, modify and make better – to trim, prune and add.
To repeal would have meant to go back – back to 1909, or even earlier – but to go back to when the conversation began in the 20th century, when Teddy Roosevelt, in the midst of enacting numerous laws to insure the health and safety of the American people, had argued for a version of Universal Healthcare. And it was an argument taken up with every administration since, almost enacted in 1934 when Social Security was introduced to a Depression-era America, but postponed until December of 1941 – and postponed again until after the War. And brought up again by President Truman, as a legacy to FDR. And on until President Obama, through obstacles, agendas and obstructions, was able to pass what became an official beginning – a beginning, even by his own admission, of a law which would form the foundation for improvement and modification – but a beginning nonetheless.
So, as a reminder that Healthcare has been an American issue for as long as anyone can remember, here is that brief news clip, from The CBS World News Roundup broadcast of July 29, 1965 of the historic passage of a milestone bill.