Medicaid and Medicare Celebrate 50 Years of Improving Michiganders’ Health and Well-Being

LANSING, Mich. – Today is a special day for the millions of Michiganders who have received help and led healthier lives since the Medicaid and Medicare programs were signed into law 50 years ago by President Lyndon B. Johnson on July 30, 1965.

An anniversary celebration was held in Lansing earlier today hosted by the Medical Care Advisory Council in partnership with the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.

“Today marks the 50th anniversary of the creation of the Medicaid and Medicare programs and is truly a day to celebrate. The Medicaid program has done untold good for low-income Michiganders; it is mind boggling to think about the tens of millions of individuals the Medicaid program has served and saved since it was implemented in Michigan in October 1966,” said Jan Hudson, Medical Care Advisory Council chair.

Jointly run by the federal and state governments, Medicaid is a health insurance program for low-income seniors, children, and people with disabilities. Individual states can customize the program to meet the specific needs of its residents. Medicare is a federal health insurance program for people age 65 or older, people under 65 with certain disabilities, and people of all ages who have permanent kidney failure that requires dialysis or a kidney transplant. Some people are eligible for both Medicaid and Medicare coverage. Together, these programs protect the health and well-being of millions of American families, save lives, and improve the nation’s economic security.

“When President Johnson signed Medicaid and Medicare into existence, he did more than provide basic health care coverage to the elderly and the most disadvantaged, he protected the health and well-being of millions of families here in Michigan and across the country and secured a better future for them and for our state,” said Tim Becker, MDHHS chief deputy.

Medicaid and Medicare have become the standard bearers in American health care for innovation, quality and coverage over the last five decades.

Fifty years ago President Johnson traveled to Independence, MO, the hometown of former President Harry S. Truman, to sign this landmark legislation. Truman, who introduced Johnson, had championed the concept for these programs 20 years previously. In the five decades since, Medicaid and Medicare have transformed the nation’s health care system. Also present that day was former Michigan Congressman John Dingell, whose late father had worked tirelessly to see that America’s elderly and most disadvantaged had access to better health care.

“Looking to the future we are exploring ways to keep Medicaid strong by helping people in Michigan through quality and innovative programs that meet the changing needs of those we serve,” said Kathy Stiffler, MDHHS acting deputy director Medical Services Administration. “This includes a greater emphasis on better preventative care and better ways to focus on those who could most benefit from preemptive care and services.”

Today in Michigan 2.3 million Michiganders are enrolled in the wide variety of Medicaid programs such as the Healthy Michigan Plan and MI Child, including nearly 52,000 babies who get a healthy start in life each year, 147,800 seniors and 380,000 people with disabilities who receive the critical care they need to live independently.

One of those beneficiaries is Nick Haas whose mother Dianne says Medicaid has been good for her son and her family.

“We are grateful for what this program has done for us as a family, Nick as an individual, and society at large, which is paid back in spades by a good hearted and hard-working guy by the name of Nick Haas. We thank all who have fought long and hard to start this program, watch over this program, expand this program, and at times save this program,” said Dianne Haas.

According to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, 54 million people are currently enrolled in Medicare in the United States. Working with the states, CMS is dedicated to creating a health care system that is setting the standards for how care is delivered by being better, smarter and healthier, and committed to improving health care for future generations.

In his July 30, 1965 remarks, Johnson quoted Truman who 20 years prior had said, “Millions of our citizens do not have the full measure of opportunity to achieve and to enjoy good health. Millions do not now have protection or security against the economic effects of sickness. And the time has now arrived for action to help attain that opportunity and to help them get that protection.” After noting that it took a long time to achieve Johnson said, “The benefits under the law are as varied and broad as the marvelous modern medicine itself.”

Jim Haveman, retired director of the former Michigan Department of Community Health, served as the Master of Ceremonies at Michigan’s celebration that recognized former Medicaid directors and staff. Celebrants also heard a taped message from Dingell as well as comments from Rick Murdock, executive director of the Michigan Association of Health Plans and Vern Smith, Michigan’s first budget analyst and former Medicaid director.

For more information about the 50th anniversary celebration, visit www.medicare.gov/anniversary.


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