142: Medicare and Medicaid Signed into Law

U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson signs the Social Security Act of 1965, which created Medicare and Medicaid, into law on July 30, 1965 in Independence, Mo. Former President Harry S. Truman, right, looks on. (Photo courtesy U.S. National Archives)

U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson signs the Social Security Act of 1965, which created Medicare and Medicaid, into law on July 30, 1965 in Independence, Mo. Former President Harry S. Truman, right, looks on. (Photo courtesy U.S. National Archives)

50 years ago today, U.S. President Lyndon Johnson signed the Social Security Act of 1965 into law.

Here are a few things you may not know about the act.

First, it established Medicare and Medicaid, the first public health insurance programs in the United States. Medicare covers seniors age 65 and older, while Medicaid covers the poor.

Second, Theodore Roosevelt originally proposed national health insurance as part of his third-party run for the presidency in 1912. Other plans were proposed by organized labor. The American Medical Association was one of the primary opponents of the plan.

Third, several other administrations, including Franklin Roosevelt and Harry Truman pushed for some sort of national health coverage. FDR removed health coverage from his Social Security proposal to help pass it. Truman included it in his “Fair Deal” program, which was unsuccessful. The 1965 act was signed in Independence, Missouri, with former president Truman in attendence.

Our question: What country was the first to introduce universal healthcare?

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