WASHINGTON, DC – Today, on the eve of the 50th anniversary of Medicare and Medicaid, U.S. Senator Jack Reed celebrated the law that has ensured access to high-quality health care for seniors and our most vulnerable citizens.

On July 30, 1965, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed into law the Medicare and Medicaid programs, which have proven instrumental in providing seniors and families with the financial stability and health care they need.

Reed noted that during the bill signing ceremony, President Johnson recognized former U.S. Representative Aime Forand (D-RI), who was one of the first authors of the legislation that became known as Medicare.

“Medicare and Medicaid are critical programs for working families and seniors in Rhode Island and across the country.  These initiatives are a lifeline in improving the health of millions of seniors, children, and vulnerable Americans, and I am committed to preserving and strengthening them for future generations,” said Reed, a cosponsor of the Medicare Protection Act, which rejects attempts to reduce Medicare benefits, including those proposals that would increase the Medicare eligibility age or turn Medicare into a privatized or voucher-based system. 

Medicare brings health security to more than 54 million Americans.  And because of Medicaid, 68 million Americans -- including children, pregnant women, and low-income families -- have access to quality health care.

“We can’t let opponents of the law turn back the clock on Medicare and Medicaid.  But some are suggesting that they want to cut the deficit on the backs of those who’ve played by the rules and planned for a retirement with quality Medicare coverage.  On behalf of the millions of Americans, including over 200,000 Rhode Islanders, who rely on Medicare, I am committed to working with my colleagues to strengthen Medicare and ensure its sustainability for another 50 years and beyond.  We need to make it more cost-effective and ensure it delivers more quality outcomes without sacrificing the law’s fundamental promise,” said Reed, noting that when the Affordable Care Act was passed five years ago, it helped strengthen Medicare by offering a new range of free, preventive services and wellness visits and provided discounts for prescription drugs to Americans who fell into the coverage gap known as “the doughnut hole.”  As a result, Rhode Islanders with Medicare have saved an average of $818 per beneficiary on prescription drugs.  

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) released updated Medicare state-by-state enrollment numbers yesterday, showing that 202,202 people in Rhode Island are covered by Medicare.