LBJ Signs the Medicare Bill
On July 30, 1965, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed Medicare into law. The event took place at the Harry S. Truman Presidential Library and LBJ told the nation that Medicare “all started with the man from Independence.”
Truman was the first president to publicly endorse a national health insurance program.
As a Senator, Truman had become alarmed at the number of draftees who had failed their induction physicals during World War II. For Truman these rejections meant that the average citizen could not afford visiting a doctor to maintain health. He stated “that is all wrong in my book. I am trying to fix it so the people in the middle-income bracket can live as long as the very rich and the very poor.”
Truman’s first proposal in 1945 provided for physician and hospital insurance for working-aged Americans and their families. A federal health board was to administer the program with the government retaining the right to fix fees for service, and doctors could choose whether or not to participate. This proposal was defeated after, among many factors, the American Medical Association labeled the president’s plan “socialized medicine” taking advantage of the public’s concern over communism in Russia.
Even though he was never able to create a national health care program, Truman was able to draw attention to the country’s health needs, have funds legislated to construct hospitals, expand medical aid to the needy, and provide for expanded medical research.
In honor of his continued advocacy for national health insurance, LBJ presented Truman and his wife Bess with Medicare cards number one and two in 1966.
Image: Harry S. Truman’s Medicare Card #1.
Photo: President Lyndon B. Johnson shakes hands with former President Harry S. Truman at the signing of the Medicare Bill. LBJ Library #34897-14.
On August 14, 1935, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the Social Security Act.
Later that day, the Washington Post proclaimed that the Social Security Act was the “New Deal’s Most Important Act…Its importance cannot be exaggerated …because this legislation eventually will affect the lives of every man, woman, and child in the country.”
This poster was distributed from November 1936- July 1937 during the initial issuance of Social Security numbers through U.S. post offices and with the help of labor unions.
On This Day: The Medicare Bill
On July 30, 1965, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Social Security Amendments of 1965 which created the Medicare program of health care benefits for those over the age of 65.
LBJ signed the Act at the Truman Library in Independence, MO. Former President Harry S. Truman had long worked towards the goals of the Act, and he participated in the ceremony.
The Trumans were of modest means, and Harry Truman described the event as a “profound personal experience for me.” Harry and Bess received Medicare registration card numbers 1 and 2 in January, 1966.
This weekend will be the 76th anniversary of the Social Security Act
On August 14, 1935 legislators and advisors crowded into the White House Cabinet Room to witness the signing of the Social Security Act. News photographers and film crews recorded the moment for history as FDR put his signature on the bill. Standing directly behind the President was the person most responsible for it - Secretary of Labor Frances Perkins. The headline in that day’s Washington Post read “New Deal’s Most Important Act.”