History.com reminds us that on this day – July 30, 1965 – President Lyndon B. Johnson signed Medicare – a healthcare insurance plan for elder Americans – into law. The signing ceremony took place at the Truman Library in Independence, Missouri. At the bill-signing ceremony, Johnson enrolled former President Harry S. Truman -who proposed national health insurance back in 1945 – as the first Medicare beneficiary and presented him with the first Medicare card and his wife Bess with the second.
The Medicare program, providing hospital and medical insurance for Americans age 65 or older, was signed into law as an amendment to the Social Security Act of 1935. Some 19 million people enrolled in Medicare when it went into effect in 1966. In 1972, eligibility for the program was extended to Americans under 65 with certain disabilities and people of all ages with permanent kidney disease requiring dialysis or transplant. In December 2003, President George W. Bush signed into law the Medicare Modernization Act (MMA), which added outpatient prescription drug benefits to Medicare.