Does the founding of Medicare in 1965 give us any indication as to whether Obamacare–the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act–eventually will be a success or a failure?
Sarah Kliff over at the Washington Post’s always excellent WonkBlog has dug into the archives of her newspaper and traced the history of the launching of Medicare, almost a half century ago. Using newspaper clippings, she reminds us of the uncertainty and trepidation the nation experienced as it shifted into its first iteration of nationalized healthcare. The centerpiece of President Lyndon Johnson’s “Great Society,” Medicare was a national experiment that today has become an institution.
Like the ACA, the founding of Medicare was touch and go. When it launched, 93 percent of seniors had been signed up. To accomplish that, thousands were hired to canvass neighborhoods. Even the Forest Service was dragged into service to comb the woods looking for hermits who were 65 and over.
Compare that to the opening of the ACA health insurance exchanges in October. So far all we have is a form. If the history of Medicare is any indication we’re going to need much, much more.