GSA Recognizes Impact of Medicare, Medicaid at Programs’ 50th Anniversary

For Immediate Release
July 30, 2015

Contact: Todd Kluss
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Fifty years after the creation of Medicare and Medicaid, The Gerontological Society of America (GSA) — the nation’s largest interdisciplinary organization devoted to the field of aging — is highlighting the positive impact that the country’s two largest public health insurance programs have had on the nation’s older adult population.

Medicare and Medicaid were both signed into law by President Lyndon Johnson on July 30, 1965, as part of the Social Security Amendments of 1965. Today, Medicare covers more than 55 million Americans, 80 percent of which are aged 65 years or older. Medicaid, a joint federal and state program, provides health coverage to more than 4.6 million low-income older Americans, nearly all of whom are also enrolled in Medicare, according to the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).

“At the time these programs were signed into law, about half of older adults had no health care coverage,” said GSA Executive Director and CEO James Appleby, BPharm, MPH. “Over the past five decades, Medicare and Medicaid have become essential to the care of older adults and ensuring they have the opportunity to live healthy, productive lives.”

Appleby, therefore, said it is vital that the programs be sustained in order to meet the needs of the aging population.

“With 10,000 members of the baby boomer generation turning 65 each day, our elected leaders must continue their commitment to providing care for the fastest growing segment of our population,” Appleby added. “As President Obama said at the recent White House Conference on Aging, ‘one of the best measures of a country is how it treats its older citizens.’”

In total, Medicare and Medicaid cover nearly 1 out of every 3 Americans. Nearly two-thirds of nursing center patients and one-fifth of assisted living residents rely on Medicaid for their care. In the 50 years since its creation, Medicare has expanded to cover 23 types of preventive services, including flu shots and diabetes screenings. Medicare also covers hospital stays, lab tests and supplies like wheelchairs, as well as prescription drugs. The CMS reports that 94 percent of Medicare beneficiaries are satisfied or very satisfied with the quality of medical care they received last year.


The Gerontological Society of America (GSA) is the nation's oldest and largest interdisciplinary organization devoted to research, education, and practice in the field of aging. The principal mission of the Society — and its 5,500+ members — is to advance the study of aging and disseminate information among scientists, decision makers, and the general public. GSA’s structure also includes a policy institute, the National Academy on an Aging Society, and an educational branch, the Association for Gerontology in Higher Education.


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