In 1965, President Johnson signed Medicare into law at the Truman Library in Independence, Missouri. President Johnson wanted to recognize Truman, who, in 1945, had become the first president to propose national health insurance. That’s why President Truman was enrolled as Medicare’s first beneficiary and received the first Medicare card.
That was nearly half a century ago. Nowadays, the method of Medicare spending needs to change as many wonder, is Medicare sustainable?
The question steams from the growth of Medicare which can be attributed, in part, to the baby boomer generation. For example, in 1963, 17.5 million Americans were 65 or older. By 2015, that number had skyrocketed to 55 million.
There appears to be no end in sight because projections indicate that as many as 80 million people may be eligible for Medicare by 2030.
That’s a real issue because Medicare spending, in 2014, reached nearly $600 billion, or 14 percent of the federal budget.
Where Medicare takes care of the senior population, Medicaid is the government’s health care program aimed at low-income Americans.
Medicaid, also continues to grow. In 2014 it covered almost 70 million low-income Americans, making it the largest source of health insurance in the country.
In fact, Medicaid played a major role in Obamacare’s aim to reduce the number of uninsured in the country.
Under the law, states can expand Medicaid to cover adults who make less than 138 percent of the federal poverty level, which is $16,243 a year for an individual and $33,465 for a family of four.
Twenty-to states, all led by Republicans who oppose Obamacare, have opted not to expand Medicaid, with many citing concerns about the cost.
Though the federal government picks up 100 percent of expansion through 2016, it gradually drops support to 90 percent by 2020.
Medicaid already takes up the largest share of strained state budgets. The federal government pays about 57 percent, on average, of Medicaid costs, and states pick up the rest. Given the tight fiscal constraints in today’s economy, the time to change how Medicare is paid has come.