Leonard Kirschner, M.D., M.P.H., is a retired medical administration and public health
advocate. During his career, he was frequently invited to speak at conferences on the subjects of Medicaid, Medicare, managed care, behavioral health and healthcare reform. He was the second director of the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System, from 1987 to 1993. Below is a guest blog he wrote for us on a health related anniversaries.
July 2015 was the 50th anniversary of the historic signing of Medicare and Medicaid into law by President Lyndon Johnson. The first Medicare card went to former President Harry S. Truman whose premium for Part B was $3.00 per month. LBJ spoke only about Medicare and declared it a memorial to the slain JFK. Medicaid was an afterthought, added at the last moment before the law was passed by a divided Congress, and was intended to be a rather modest program with minimal financial impact. Congressional opposition was fierce, calling it “Socialism.” Today, when beneficiaries are polled, both programs get high marks.
It was July 1990 and President George H. W. Bush signed the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) into law. The president considered it an extension of the Civil Rights Act of 1965. He said, “let the shameful wall of exclusion finally come tumbling down.” The signing was the culmination of a quarter century of advocacy by and for members of our society with disabilities. Some opponents called it “Socialism.”
Can you believe it has been just over five years since President Barack Obama signed the Affordable Care Act (ACA)? I don’t believe I need to recount the battles leading up to the passage and subsequent battles to repeal and replace. Opponents, when not talking about “Death Panels”, even called it “Socialism.”
We celebrated the 80th anniversary of Social Security, the 50th anniversary of Medicare and Medicaid, the 25th anniversary of the ADA, and the 5th anniversary of the ACA all within the past year. Remember that the passage of these laws took years of effort, advocacy and politics to achieve. And also don’t forget that once the laws were signed the political battles did not end.
Across Arizona individuals and families sometimes still struggle to afford their healthcare, even with these programs in place. Resources are available, such as www.benefitscheckup.org, a service of the National Council on Aging that searches programs that can help you pay for prescription drugs and other health care costs. There are also resources to assist beneficiaries to better understand their coverage, like www.MyMedicareMatters.org, a web-based decision-making tool is provided by the National Council on Aging and the Access to Benefits Coalition.
Dr. Kirschner believes these laws have made a difference in the lives of many Arizonans. What do you think? Whether you agree or disagree…we want to hear from you. These are the types of discussions that can help take us another step closer to our goal of one day making Arizona the Healthiest State in the Nation!