Right Hooks

Lessons From the 50th Anniversary of Medicare and Medicaid

Dan Gilmore · Jul. 31, 2015

This is not what the progressive politicians who created Medicare and Medicaid 50 years ago this week told the country. The “Great Society” was supposed to banish poverty from the land, while bringing care for the elderly and disabled. Today, over a third of the U.S. population is on Medicare and Medicaid, and federal spending has a tendency to be sucked into the programs’ gaping maws. Today, more than quarter of every dollar the federal government spends goes to the two programs. They are also the biggest expense for state governments. But for all that spending, the programs’ trust fund is on track to run out of money in 15 years. Meanwhile, the Baby Boomer generation is signing up in droves and $60 billion is lost every year to waste and fraud. This is not what the programs’ architects wanted Americans to think would happen. Fifty years ago, they estimated the programs would cost $12 billion in 1990, but it actually cost the government $90 billion. Another government program, now five years old, also promised to trim health care costs through more government intrusion and regulation. Just wait until ObamaCare turns 10, much less 50.

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