Posted on Jul 29, 2009
By Marie Cocco
Happy Birthday, Medicare.
It’s a fine time—perfect, in fact—to celebrate the government-run, taxpayer-supported colossus in the American health care system that turns 44 this week. Medicare has done all it was supposed to do, and more.
It thrives despite apocalyptic warnings from its original opponents that “socialized medicine” would hamper doctors, hospitals, patients—perhaps even doom the entire American health care system. Medicare is exceedingly popular and remarkably well-functioning despite its current critics’ claims that it is singularly wasteful, out of control in some never-specified way or, at the very least, holds the potential to bankrupt us all in the next generation.
Medicare is where political posturing runs headlong into historical truth: It is, along with Social Security, the most successful government program—other than its unrivaled military—that the United States has ever created.
And it has delivered for elderly people what President Barack Obama and at least some Democrats say they want to deliver for the rest of us: universal coverage ensuring that people with medical problems will not become impoverished by their illness, with patients offered a guaranteed set of services and a choice of private doctors, hospitals and other practitioners when they need treatment.