Medicare Anniversary 45 Years With Changes

USA Today reports:

“Controversy over Medicare and Medicaid is back in the headlines. That’s not new. Friday is the 45th anniversary since Medicare went into effect in 1966. Since then, they have been changed many times.

Now, politicians are divided over changes called ObamaCare to RomneyCare and in between. Whatever it’s called, it promises to be a major issue in next year’s presidential campaign.

Initially, Medicare covered senior citizens only. Former President Harry S. Truman , then 81, received the first Medicare card.

Now Medicare and/or Medicaid cover not just seniors, but younger disabled adults and low-income children. Coverage and costs for both in 2010:

— Medicare covered 47.2 million people; Medicaid 53.9 million.

— About 9 million of us are covered by both Medicare and Medicaid.

— Medicare cost $525.7 billion in the federal budget; Medicaid$272.8 billion.

Some important differences in the two programs:

Medicare primarily provides insurance for hospitalization, physician visits and prescription drug discounts.

Medicaid not only covers hospitalization, physician services and prescription drug benefits, but also provides dental services and eyeglasses, home health services, nursing home care and many services medically necessary for children.

Unlike Medicare, Medicaid is run by the states. There are broad federal guidelines, but states have a great deal of flexibility to set eligibility and benefits and to determine how much providers are paid. The federal government pays an average of 57% of Medicaid programs and states provide the rest. Either way, you and I foot the bills.

The broad goal of both programs is to make sure people of all ages can get health care. No matter our political preference, we should all be able to agree on that, no matter what it’s called

“Medicare is going broke in nine years. The unemployment rate remains above 9%. Our reforms save Medicare and strengthen all Americans’ health and economic security.”

— Rep. Paul Ryan , R-Wis.

“Republicans propose ‘saving’ Medicare/Medicaid by doubling seniors’ costs and leaving millions on their own for nursing home care, all while insisting on more tax breaks for billionaires and corporate jets.”

— Tom McMahon , executive director, Americans United for Change”