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WASHINGTON, DC – House Democratic Whip Steny H. Hoyer (MD) released the following statement today in recognition of the 40th anniversary of Medicare and Medicaid on Saturday:
“Forty years ago today – July 30, 1965 – President Johnson signed Medicare and Medicaid into law, providing a lifeline to millions of older Americans and low-income families who would otherwise not have been able to afford health care.
“As a direct result of these two programs, health care coverage for seniors and low-income families has increased and the life expectancy of Americans has risen over the last four decades, while the poverty rate for seniors has dropped and childhood deaths for low-income children have declined.
“Despite the great contributions of Medicare and Medicaid to Americans’ health, this nation still faces a health care crisis that must be addressed. Forty-five million Americans today have no health insurance and health care costs continue to skyrocket. Given these health care challenges, it is disconcerting that President Bush and Congressional Republicans have proposed cuts in Medicaid funding that would make it even more difficult for many Americans to receive health care.
“Furthermore, proposals to privatize Social Security would undermine the health and security of older, low-income citizens and Americans with disabilities.
“The former Chairman of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education – William Natcher (D-KY) – used to say that ‘a country that significantly invests in the education of its children and the health of its people will continue to be greater and stronger than its neighbors.’ Those are wise words that we should never forget. And, on this 40th Anniversary of Medicare and Medicaid, we need to recommit ourselves to Medicare and Medicaid, as well as the health and prosperity of all Americans.”