President Johnson didn’t hold back when he signed Medicare into law 47 years ago. He said:
No longer will older Americans be denied the healing miracle of modern medicine. No longer will illness crush and destroy the savings that they have so carefully put away over a lifetime so that they might enjoy dignity in their later years.
Everywhere I go as chief volunteer spokesperson for AARP, I run into people who tell me how important Medicare is in real life.
One was a retired businessman from Pennsylvania who is on the list for a lung transplant…..He told me, “The 1st test I had to pass when I went to the hospital was a financial test. If I didn’t have Medicare, I’d be dead now.” Imagine, struggling for every breath, and wondering if you can afford to qualify to get on the list for a scarce lung.
More: Read the history of Medicare.
But qualify he did, because he had Medicare.
Medicare matters. By no means does it cover everything (not dental, vision, or nursing homes, for example), but it provides basic, essential doctor and hospital benefits — by law.
Medicare can’t deny coverage because of your age or preexisting conditions. You can’t lose Medicare if you accumulate a lot of health care bills.
Medicare is not just a math problem. This is about real people, with real illnesses, with families and long lives to be enjoyed.
Forty-seven years from now, let’s make sure that our children and grandchildren have the kind of Medicare in place that let’s them pass the financial test. That lets them live without the fear that illness will “crush and destroy” their savings.
Visit earnedsasay.com to see the pros and cons of some of the options to change being debated in Washington, DC, explained in simple terms by bipartisan experts. Be assured, AARP is committed to preserving and strengthening this essential program for generations to come.
Image credit: National Institutes of Health Library on Flickr.