Medicare Turns 50: More Than 3 Million New Yorkers Covered; Aims To Improve Health Of Elderly

By Andrew Cohen
News Long Island, July 30, 2015

Note: An audio version of this story is available here.

LONG ISLAND, NY – Today is the 50th anniversary of Medicare, and the program’s advocates are using the occasion to push for a major expansion.

Medicare provides health care to 55 million Americans, including 3.3 million New Yorkers.

Its supporters say it has been so successful that the country ought to consider universal, government-funded health care – a kind of Medicare for all.

Dr. David Himmelstein, co-founder of Physicians for a National Health Program, says Medicare eases the burdens many seniors face, and does it with one-sixth the overhead costs of private insurance.

“Medicare has been vital to improve both the physical and mental health and financial health of the elderly, who were largely abandoned by the private insurance industry before Medicare existed,” he stresses.

Opponents of universal health care say the government has too much control over people’s lives already.

But Alice Brody, state coordinator of the group Single Payer New York, says it’s time the U.S. caught up with other nations, including Canada, France and Great Britain, which have had government health programs for all citizens for years.

“All of the developed countries, basically, have a system that’s similar to Medicare, but even goes beyond that,” she points out.

National Nurses United, along with the Medicare Turns 50 Coalition, holds events to celebrate the anniversary in 30 cities across the country today, including New York City, Buffalo and Cohoes, near Albany.

The nurses want Congress to support House Resolution 676, which would expand Medicare to all U.S. residents.