The Great Society was first mentioned by President Lyndon B. Johnson himself in a speech of Ohio University. He later revealed the detail of the program at the University of Michigan. In his vision, the Great Society would be the answer to current problems that the nation was facing: poverty, education, medical care, and racial discrimination. Though it was Johnson who coined the term, the ideation actually came from a stalled “The New Frontier” introduce by President John F. Kennedy before his assassination (Longley, 2019). Using his connections and vast knowledge in politics, Johnson had successfully lobbied “The Great Society” started the largest social reform plan in modern history. There are numerous of initiatives within The Great Society program; this paper will discuss in depth about Medicare and its impact on people who live in the U.S.
Like many ideas that turned into reality, someone had thought of it before but the plan never materialized. The ideation of creating a great society have had visited by many leaders before Johnson but never reach the level of success of Johnson. President Franklin Roosevelt started the New Deal to help people receive support from the government during and post Great Depression. Then, President Truman asked Congress to look into a national insurance but Congress was not ready for a “socialized insurance”. As stated above, Johnson inherited Kennedy’s “The New Frontier” plan after the assassination. The New Frontier had many proposals including establishing Peace Corps, raising and broadening minimum wage and coverage, raising Social Security benefits, providing Medicare, improving federal aid to education, and creating a federal department of urban affairs (Chapter 6: Eras of the New Frontier and the Great Society 1961-1969, 2019).
Prior to 1930s, the elderly was at the mercy of the local, state, and family to receive help financially and medically. President Roosevelt signed the Social Security Act into law on 15 August, 1935 providing funds to the elderly from contributions through individual’s taxes and employers’ payrolls (Social Security Act (1935), 2019). The 1950 census showed that the elderly in the United States had grown from 3 million to 12 million between 1900 and 1950. It also revealed that approximately two-thirds of older Americans were making less than a $1,000 annually. While the aged population kept growing, the cost of medical bills was also raising at about 6.7 percent a year (Social Security Act (1935, 2019). For 5 long years, 1960-1965, there were numerous debates, testimonies, researches, and proposals presented to Congress to solve this front burner issue which Congress passed the legislation in 1965. After careful consideration, Johnson decided to announce and sign the bill with former President Truman at Truman President Library in Independence, MO. to recognize Truman’s initial efforts to create a national insurance program (Social Security Act (1935), 2019).
On 30 July, 1965 President Johnson and the First Lady; George Meany, president of the AFL-CIO; Anthony Celebrezze, Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare; John Connally, Texas Governor; 13 U.S. Senators; and 19 U.S. Representatives were met by Former President and Mrs. Truman at the Truman Library in Independence for the bill signing. In the first three years, there was nearly 20 million beneficiaries enrolled in the program (Social Security Act (1935), 2019). The original Medicare program had Part A (Hospital Insurance) and Part B (Medical Insurance) which they are called “Original Medicare” (CMS’ program history, 2018).
Medicare program has been expanding since its first introduction on that historic date to better serve and provide more support to the citizens. Over the years, changes were made so that more people could become eligible and more benefits such as prescription drug coverage have been offered (CMS’ program history, 2018). Continuing to provide more support and aid to the citizens, the Medicare Prescription Drug Improvement and Modernization Act of 2003 (MMA) had the most affects to the Medicare program in 38 years. The “MA Plans” was born under this act letting approved private health plans called Medicare Advantage Plans. In 1997, CHIP (Children’s Health Insurance Program) provided insurance and preventive care to more than 10 million uninsured American children with coverage in all 50 states, D.C., and territories (CMS’ program history, 2018).
Since 30 July, 1965, President Johnson’s Great Society initiative has been protecting the health and welfare of millions of Americans regardless of where they live. However, Johnson’s phenomenal work in the “Great Society” was over shadowed by the growing numbers of civil rights protest and large funding to the Vietnam War (Longley, 2019). Johnson eventually ordered a halt to the bombing of North Vietnam and withdrew his candidacy for the next term election. Though some of his programs are not existed today, many of them are still in service and impacting Americans lives like the Medicare and Medicaid programs.
The Honorable John Cornyn
Washington, DC Office
517 Hart Senate Office Bldg
Washington, DC 20510
Dear Senator Cornyn:
My name is Nghiem V. Nguyen. I am currently serving in the United States Army at Fort Hood, Texas. I am writing you this letter regarding one of the greatest programs in the history of social reform called “The Great Society”. It was first introduced to Americans in the 1960s by President Johnson.
I picked the Medicare program to talk to about because of its impact it has been having on American citizens since July 30, 1965. Many great Americans I know have been receiving aids from the Medicare program. However, I believe that Americans can benefit more of there are more additions to the coverage. While medical care for the body and health is important, oral, vision, and hearing health are as important. Disregard mounts of evidence proving that oral, vision, and hearing are related to physical health, Medicare has been excluding routines check-ups. Although Medicare Advantage my offers coverage, it is often inconsistent and changes from year to year.
Dental benefits should be including both preventative care and medical procedures. These benefits should be at a low-cost sharing rules under Part B. Dental care has been excluded in the initial Medicare which means Medicare Part B will not cover for care, treatment, removal, or replacement of teeth or structures directly supporting teeth regardless of the cause or complexity. If a service is not related to non-medical condition, service to teeth will also be excluded in Part B. Congress should also add standardized, high-quality but affordable vision and hearing care.
I sincerely urge you to look over these coverages and work toward adding them into the Medicare programs. Medicare initially created to continue giving medical supports to the elderly and low-income family. Paying for these coverages most of the times exceed their ability of paying for them which defeats the purpose of being a Medicare beneficiary.
Nghiem V. Nguyen
CMS’ program history. (2018, June 20). Retrieved July 29, 2019, from https://www.cms.gov/About-CMS/Agency-information/History/
Chapter 6: Eras of the New Frontier and the Great Society 1961-1969. (2019, July 29). Retrieved July 29, 2019, from https://www.dol.gov/general/aboutdol/history/dolchp06
Social Security Act (1935). (2019, July 29). Retrieved July 29, 2019, from https://www.ourdocuments.gov/doc.php?flash=false&doc=68
Kagan, J. (2019, March 12). Medicare. Retrieved July 29, 2019, from https://www.investopedia.com/terms/m/medicare.asp
Longley, R. (2019, May 25). Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society Brought Sweeping Social Change. Retrieved July 29, 2019, from https://www.thoughtco.com/johnson-great-society-4129058