Guess who turned 40 this year? – Shelby Sun

Like it or not medicare is here to stay – infact there are many who advocate it as the insurance plan for all Americas who cannot insurance from their employees or self-insured. Now that would qualify for a mid-life crisis.

The big 4-0

The health program that provides coverage for seniors and eligible people with disabilities turned 40 this summer. When it was launched, Medicare covered fewer than 20 million people for about $3 billion annually. In 2005, the program expects to pay $325 billion to provide health care for nearly 42 million people. Here are a few Medicare milestones:

July 30, 1965 : President Lyndon Johnson signs a bill into law enacting the Medicare program. Former President Harry Truman is the first enrollee.

July 1, 1966 : Medicare coverage begins. Roughly 19 million elder Americans automatically receive hospital insurance.

Oct. 30, 1972 : President Richard Nixon approves legislation expanding Medicare to people younger than 65 with long-term disabilities.

Aug. 13, 1981 : President Ronald Reagan signs the first in a series of bills to slow Medicare growth.

July 1, 1988 : The Medicare Catastrophic Coverage Act of 1988 establishes an outpatient drug benefit and limits out-of-pocket costs. Congress repeals the major elements of the law the next year.

Dec. 19, 1989 : President George H. W. Bush signs a bill replacing charge-based reimbursements for physicians with the Resource-Based Relative Value Scale.

Aug. 5, 1997 : President Bill Clinton approves the Balanced Budget Act of 1997, reducing payments to a wide range of Medicare participants and launching private Medicare plans. Congress approves a series of bills in subsequent years restoring some of the cuts.

Dec. 8, 2003 : President George W. Bush signs the Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement and Modernization Act of 2003 into law.

Source: Kaiser Family Foundation