The 48th Anniversary of Medicare and Medicaid

Tuesday, July 30

A statement by HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius

Today, we mark the 48th anniversary of Medicare and Medicaid becoming law, a sacred promise our country made to older Americans and low-income working Americans and families that they will have the medical care they need to live healthier lives.

The historic pledge acknowledges that after contributing a lifetime of hard work to our nation’s well-being, our seniors will be able to live their golden years with the security and peace of mind that comes with having affordable health coverage under Medicare.

For low-income children, parents, and people with disabilities, Medicaid created a federal-state partnership to provide a health care safety net to promote stronger families and communities across our country.

The reforms in the Affordable Care Act strengthen the promise of both Medicare and Medicaid.

Medicaid provides health coverage to 57 million people, including more than 4.6 million low income seniors, nearly all of whom are also enrolled in Medicare, and 27.8 million children. The Affordable Care Act authorizes states to extend Medicaid coverage to adult Americans under age 65 with income up to 133 percent of the federal poverty level—and provides unprecedented federal funding for that expansion.

Medicaid expansion is a critical piece of the puzzle to ensure more Americans get the care they need. But it would also reduce the burden of uncompensated care. The Affordable Care Act allows all states to expand Medicaid coverage to reach even more people, and to make sure that your zip code doesn’t determine your health care.

And because of the Affordable Care Act, more than 16.5 million people with traditional Medicare were able to take advantage of at least one free preventive service, such as a mammogram or cardiovascular disease screening so far this year.

Since the enactment of the health care law three years ago, more than 6.6 million people with Medicare have saved more than $7 billion on prescription drugs when they fell into the “donut hole” gap in coverage. The law will close the donut hole completely by 2020.

With new tools and stronger penalties, the health care law is also protecting the health of our seniors and taxpayer dollars by helping us root out Medicare fraud, waste and abuse, resulting in record high recovery of funds: nearly $15 billion in the last four years.

The Affordable Care Act is also strengthening the Medicare Trust Fund, extending its solvency until at least 2026, nearly a decade longer than projected at the time of the law’s passage in 2010.

I call on all of you to join me in renewing the promise our nation made 48 years ago to our parents, aunts, uncles, and neighbors – and to our children – that Medicare and Medicaid will be there to help them live healthier lives, with security and peace of mind.

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