Washington, D.C. (July 30, 2015) – Val J. Halamandaris, President of the National Association for Home Care & Hospice, today hailed the 50th Anniversary of Medicare and Medicaid being signed into law.
“It is only appropriate that we thank Presidents Lyndon B. Johnson and John F. Kennedy as well as Republican Leader C. Everett Dirksen, for their gift to the nation of Medicare and Medicaid,” Halamandaris said. “In simple terms, Medicare and Medicaid have enhanced the freedoms of our seniors and added years to life, and life to years.”
Before Medicare, U.S. seniors were at risk and unable to buy health insurance at a time when statistically they received only half of their pre-retirement income and were sick three times as often and hospitalized three times as long as their younger counterparts. Halamandaris states that Medicare helped assuage seniors’ worries by providing them with access to the best health care coverage at an affordable price.
“What price would we place on helping our elders achieve a longer and healthier life?” Halamandaris asked. “Surely we would be willing to do all in our power to give them freedom from worry, from the fear of going without care, and from the fear that they will lose all they worked for and wind up a ward of the state.” President John F. Kennedy thought there was no better investment than to provide health care for seniors. Referencing the historian, Arnold Toynbee, who had studied the survival of civilizations, Kennedy argued that it was important to venerate and care for our elders like the Ancient Greeks and Ancient Chinese, and that it was morally the right thing to do. What was at stake, Kennedy argued, was nothing less than the future of American Democracy and how we will be viewed through the prism of history.
The stakes have been high, but because of programs such as Medicare and Medicaid, America has earned a much better score over the past 50 years for its treatment of vulnerable populations. At the same time, any objective analysis will demonstrate changes must be made. Today, some 90 percent of Medicare costs relate to the management of chronic disease, and yet Medicare is still geared to acute illness. “We need to cancel the some $80 billion in cuts in home health care, and instead increase our investments in home and community-based care. Equally important is to increase the use of telehealth to help monitor health care of patients from a distance. Simply put, help is needed to keep even more seniors with multiple or chronic health care needs at home and independent, where they most want to be,” Halamandaris said. “Freedoms earned and realized have a way of pointing the way to still greater freedoms that are required by future generations.”
“Happy Birthday, Medicare and Medicaid,” Halamandaris said. “We are grateful for all you have done in your first 50 years, and for your continued support of the 78 million members of the Baby Boom generation which is just now coming of age.”
The National Association for Home Care & Hospice (NAHC) is a non-profit organization that represents the nation’s 33,000 home care and hospice organizations. NAHC also advocates for the more than two million nurses, therapists, aides and other caregivers employed by such organizations to provide in-home services to some 12 million Americans every year who are infirm, chronically ill, disabled and dying. Along with its advocacy, NAHC provides information to help its members provide the highest quality of care and is committed to excellence in every respect. To learn more about NAHC visit www.nahc.org.