The Politics of Medicare, 50 Years On

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It was 50 years ago today that Lyndon Johnson signed Medicare and Medicaid into law. Today, they’re providing healthcare for 55 million people. In 2003, George W. Bush expanded Medicare with a prescription-drug benefit.  But now, in his campaign for the presidential nomination, brother Jeb says, "We need to figure out a way to phase out this program for others and move to a new system that allows them to have something, because they're not going to have anything." On the other side, Campaigning for the Democratic nomination, Senator Bernie Sanders says, "We need Medicare to cover every man, woman and child as a single payer healthcare program."

For students of politics, Medicare and Medicaid comprise an issue that’s both old and new, as Ron Brownstein well knows. He's editorial director for the Atlantic Media and columnist for the National Journal.