Years back, this program was the federal governments' most contentious and fought about initiative it was - Medicare.
Today it is Obamacare which is going through the same sort of odds -The Affordable Care Act will undergo the same and more criticism than Medicare before it hopefully becomes popular and comes to stay.
In 1960, Peter A. Corning a journalist and student of New York University evolved Medicare while under contract with the Social Security Administration.
There were a number of debates ranging over the years - about health care for the elderly, proposals abounded right from the 1950's through the 1960s' in the quest for a suitable compromise.
Though President John F. Kennedy acknowledged the need of care for the aged, he could not do much till after the mid-term elections in 1962. Opposition forces - mainly the American Medical Association launched a challenge against this act by launching pamphlets, radio and TV Commercials along with speeches.
Insurance companies and the nonprofit Blue Cross Association joined the melee by developing low cost insurance programs for the elderly. There were continued debates and surprisingly business also opposed the government using the chamber of commerce for insurance.
There were so many defeats that Medicare supporters became pessimistic and felt that Medicare was a lost cause.
At the same time medical costs were rising steeply, as a result private insurance was exorbitant - only 1 in every 4 elderly people had insurance.
This scenario also meant that "hospitals were not being reimbursed adequately for the cost of treating elderly patients, (so) there was a tendency to load the cost of 'charity' care onto the paying customers and their insurance carriers ... " (Sound familiar?) This cost-shifting problem led to strong support from American hospitals for Medicare - and it's the same reason they support Obama's reforms today.
By 1965 the need for a program was becoming clear; with a decrease in personal income and high medical costs the Medicare program had found its place.
This reminds one of Obamacare - one will need to wait and see if it becomes as integral a part of America's Medicare after a few years?
Hannah Punitha (IRDA Licence Number: 2710062)
Janet Pearson, June 2013