ACP Celebrates the 50th Anniversary of Medicare and Medicaid

Attributable to:
A statement from ACP President Wayne Riley, MD, MPH, MBA, MACP
President, American College of Physicians (ACP)

July 30, 2015

As we mark the 50th anniversary of the creation of the Medicare and Medicaid programs, the American College of Physicians would like to take a moment to reflect on the tremendous good these programs have done for our country, and to physicians' ability to provide their patients with high quality, accessible healthcare.

  • The Commonwealth Fund observes that "While 48 percent of the elderly lacked health coverage in 1962, today just 2 percent do. And while the 15-year increase in life expectancy at age 65 achieved between 1965 and 1984 cannot be wholly attributed to Medicare, without its coverage many elderly Americans would simply not have had access to the medical advances that also have contributed to rising longevity."
  • Before Medicaid, the poor and vulnerable in our country were unable to afford the most basic health care services. "Today, the Medicaid program now provides health and long-term care coverage to nearly 70 million low-income Americans, including pregnant women, children and parents, people with a wide range of disabilities, poor seniors who are also covered by Medicare, and, in states implementing the Medicaid expansion established by the Affordable Care Act (ACA), low-income adults who were previously excluded from the program. Prior to the implementation of the ACA, Medicaid covered roughly half of nonelderly Americans living in poverty" observes the Kaiser Family Foundation.

Looking forward, the United States must commit to continuing to ensure the continued success of both Medicare and Medicaid. With baby-boomers becoming Medicare eligible in record numbers, Congress must continue to ensure that the program is able to fund their care in a fiscally-responsible way. All states should commit to expanding Medicaid to all persons with incomes up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level, as authorized and largely funded by the ACA, while Congress and the administration need to do their part by ensuring continued and sustained funding for Medicaid and facilitating state innovation.


In the above quote Dr. Riley refers to The Commonwealth Fund report, Medicare at 50 - Origins and Evolution and the Kaiser Family Foundation report, Medicaid at 50.

The American College of Physicians is the largest medical specialty organization and the second-largest physician group in the United States. ACP members include 143,000 internal medicine physicians (internists), related subspecialists, and medical students. Internal medicine physicians are specialists who apply scientific knowledge and clinical expertise to the diagnosis, treatment, and compassionate care of adults across the spectrum from health to complex illness. Follow ACP on Twitter and Facebook.

Jackie Blaser, (202) 261-4572
David Kinsman, (202) 261-4554