July 30, 1965: Medicare was enacted to cover the elderly. Medicaid was enacted to cover low-income aged, blind, and disabled individuals, and parents and their dependent children on welfare. Seniors were the population group most likely to be living in poverty; about half had insurance coverage.
1966: Medicare was implemented more than 19 million enrolled on July 1.
1970: 20.4 million older Americans were enrolled in Medicare.
1972: Medicare coverage was extended to the disabled and those with permanent kidney failure: 2 million new individuals subsequently enrolled in the program.
1977: The Health Care Financing Administration was established to administer the Medicare and Medicaid programs.
1980: Coverage of home health services was broadened. Medicare supplemental insurance, also called Medigap, was brought under federal oversight. More than 28 million individuals were enrolled in Medicare.
1982: Medicare begins contracting with HMOs on a risk-basis. Hospice benefits for the terminally ill were enacted.
1983: A new prospective payment system for hospitals was implemented to slow the growth of hospital spending and preserve the life of the Hospital Insurance Trust Fund.
1988: The Medicare Catastrophic Coverage Act was enacted to include an outpatient prescription drug benefit and a cap on patient liability.
1989: The Medicare Catastrophic Coverage Act was repealed after higher-income elderly protested new premiums. A new fee schedule for physician services was enacted.
1990: Additional federal standards for Medicare supplemental insurance policies were enacted.
1997: The Balanced Budget Act (BBA) was enacted, extending solvency of the hospital insurance (HI) trust fund; established Medicare + Choice, a new array of choices for beneficiaries, with a new beneficiary education campaign, expanded coverage of preventive benefits; and created additional prospective payment systems.
1998: www.medicare.gov launched to provide updated information about Medicare on the Internet.
1999: Medicares hundreds of computer systems, with nearly 50 million lines of computer code, achieved Y2K readiness on schedule and under budget. Payments to health care providers for treating Medicare beneficiaries uninterrupted and timely. 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227) available nationwide. First annual Medicare & You handbook mailed to all Medicare beneficiary households.
2000: Medicare serves 39 million seniors and disabled Americans. Seniors are the population group least likely to be living in poverty and most likely to have insurance coverage. The Medicare trustees estimate Medicare solvency through 2025, longer than ever before.
2030: Medicare will serve an estimated 77 million Americans.
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National Institutes of Health