January 09,2015

Press Contact:

Charles Pope (Wyden): 202-224-4515

Senate Democrats Introduce Resolution Commemorating 50th Anniversary of Medicare and Medicaid

Resolution Highlights Lasting, Bipartisan Effort to Preserve and Improve Health Programs for All Americans

WASHINGTON –Senate Finance Committee Ranking Member Ron Wyden, D-Ore., today led a group of 46 senators to introduce a resolution to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Medicare and Medicaid, which became law in 1965. Wyden also delivered a statement Wednesday marking the 50th anniversary of President Lyndon B. Johnson’s message to Congress where he outlined his principles for health reform that would result in the creation of Medicare and Medicaid.

“When President Johnson submitted his message to Congress 50 years ago, fewer than half of America’s elderly even had health insurance,” Wyden said. “In that era – and it wasn’t that long ago - it wasn’t uncommon for the sick elderly to be treated like second class citizens, and as a result, many aging Americans without family to care for them ended up destitute, without necessary health care, or on the street. 

“It’s worth remembering how far we’ve come. Today, I ask my colleagues to use this anniversary as a vivid reminder of the difference Medicare and Medicaid make in the daily lives of Americans, and also the health care advances that have occurred as a result. 

“As the 114th Congress gets underway, my colleagues and I could all take a page from President Johnson’s playbook: Congress shouldn’t use partisan tactics when the solutions can be bipartisan.

“And there’s the lesson; that despite sharp differences and partisanship, the Congress of Johnson’s day was able to rise above that culture and those challenges to find agreement and make America a much better place. As this new Congress begins, I hope we can use that 50-year-old spirit to strengthen, protect and improve Medicare and Medicaid to keep the guarantee strong and ensure health care to those who need it most.”

Wyden’s full statement, delivered on the Senate floor, can be found here. Video is available here.

Co-sponsors of the resolution include Senators Baldwin, Bennet, Blumenthal, Booker, Boxer, Brown, Cantwell, Cardin, Carper, Casey, Coons, Donnelly, Durbin, Feinstein, Franken, Gillibrand, Heinrich, Heitkamp, Hirono, Kaine, King, Klobuchar, Leahy, Manchin, Markey, McCaskill, Menendez, Merkley, Mikulski, Murphy, Murray, Nelson, Peters, Reed, Reid, Sanders, Schatz, Schumer, Shaheen, Stabenow, Tester, Udall, Warner, Warren, and Whitehouse.

The text of the resolution is available here.