HAPPY BIRTHDAY MEDICARE: Physicians Discuss Role of Medicare Over 50 Years of Care

Jul 06, 2015, 08:05 ET from Pennsylvania Medical Society

HARRISBURG, Pa., July 6, 2015 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- On July 30, 1965, Lyndon B. Johnson signed Medicare as well as Medicaid into law. The following year, slightly more than 19 million older Americans had Medicare coverage.

Since then, Medicare has grown, and today covers more than 54 million Americans. And, since its inaugural year, a number of changes have been made including the addition of outpatient prescription drug benefits in 2003 when George W. Bush signed the Medicare Modernization Act into law.

However, even with changes over the years, one thing has remained a constant - enabling qualifying Americans easier access to physician care.

To recognize 50 years of providing Medicare coverage, Pennsylvania's medical associations offer their thoughts on what Medicare has meant to the delivery of health care.

Allegheny County Medical Society (headquartered in Pittsburgh)

"While many things have been written (both superlative and dreadful) about the what was arguably the crowning medical achievement of the Johnson administration, no one can argue that for most of my parent's generation, it provided the medical safety net expected of any modern society.  The open question to us baby boomers now is will we be able to afford ourselves?"

John P. Williams MD
President
Allegheny County Medical Society

Dauphin County Medical Society (headquartered in Harrisburg)

"The underlying concept of insurance is beneficial in our society.  By having multiple people pay a smaller fee regularly, an individual can prevent the often financially impossible task of having to fully pay for a new house when theirs burns down, or of a new car when theirs is totaled in a crash.  Most people are comfortable with this concept, and don't truly feel that their money has gone to waste if they don't file a claim in a period of time.

"Health care has undergone an explosion of both delivered quality and quantity in the last century.  Due to advanced technology, and the hard work of dedicated health professionals, we can all have an expectation of living longer and healthier during our time on Earth.  The Medicare and Medicaid programs have extended these elements to the Americans who can least afford a large medical bill...the elderly who are retired from working, the infirmed and the poor.  Without these programs or ones like them, tens of millions of people would die prematurely, or suffer the consequences of disease.  While these programs are far from perfect, our lives would be far worse with nothing to replace them."

Robert A. Ettlinger MD
President
Dauphin County Medical Society

Keystone Chapter, American College of Surgeons

"Over the last 50 years our country has seen an increasing population over the age of 65.  This would include now the tidal wave of baby boomers who are retiring and living longer than any previous generation.  Some are staying in the workforce for much longer periods of time.  This combination of events has led to a large population who requires more medical care because of this extended lifespan.

"Medicare has provided the needed safety net for those who no longer have health insurance because of retirement and markedly reduced incomes and unable to afford commercial health insurance.

"While not a perfect system, it has been modified several times to keep pace with the changes of a longer lifespan, more chronic medical diseases, and advances in medical care."

Matthew C. Indeck MD FACS
President
Keystone Chapter, American College of Surgeons

Pennsylvania Allergy & Asthma Association

"The tremendous importance of Medicare enables many of our patients to receive appropriate care."

Todd D Green MD FAAAAI
President
Pennsylvania Allergy & Asthma Association

Pennsylvania Association of Pathologists

"Medicare has done a good job providing access to laboratory services over the years for a large segment of our population."

Pennsylvania Association of Pathologists

Pennsylvania Medical Society

"Medicare may not be perfect, but it does a good job of helping millions of older Americans access the care they need. Before Medicare, the financial burden of health care was significant for many of our elderly. They sometimes chose to go without care as they didn't want the costs to create a hardship for their families. Medicare gave them and their families peace of mind, and today continues to play a vital role in the health of those who qualify."

Karen Rizzo MD
President
Pennsylvania Medical Society

Pennsylvania Society of Gastroenterology

"What has Medicare meant to the field of Gastroenterology? It has provided easy access to millions of Americans for life saving screening tests such as colonoscopy for colon cancer screening. Medicare has also made available preventative health measures such as immunizations against hepatitis A and B and allowed many medications in the field of gastroenterology and hepatology to be much more affordable to the public."

David A. Sass MD
President
Pennsylvania Society of Gastroenterology

Philadelphia County Medical Society

"Medicare was a hallmark social program in the history of America that presently overseas health for 50 million people.  It will continue to evolve as the nation's population evolves.  We salute this Golden anniversary of continued care and the hundreds of millions of people that Medicare has admirably served since its initiation."

Michael A. DellaVecchia MD PhD FACS
President
Philadelphia County Medical Society

Potter County Medical Society (headquartered in Coudersport)

"Since its inception in the 1960s, the Medicare Program has proven itself to be an indispensable anchor in the delivery of healthcare to millions.  Although no social program is without limitations or challenges, the recognition that this program has become the synonym for a 'health care safety net' is inescapable and the implications are profound.  Reassuringly, it is almost emblematic of a culture bound by more than geography and a nation guided by more than just chance.  The implementation of this vision speaks to a shared responsibility and a shared, acknowledged benefit for those in the most need of it, for generations now.  The appreciation for this is not lost upon those of us who are fortunate enough to live, serve and practice in a rural environment. 

"We would like to share in the recognition of the Medicare Program's 50th year and the authentic spirit of care for which it was instituted all those years ago."

Christan Caramia MD
Treasurer
Potter County Medical Society

This news release is brought to you by the Pennsylvania Health News Service Project, consisting of 20 Pennsylvania-based medical and specialty associations and societies. Members of PHNS include Pennsylvania Allergy & Asthma Association, Pennsylvania Dental Association, Pennsylvania Academy of Dermatology & Dermatologic Surgery, Pennsylvania Academy of Ophthalmology, Pennsylvania Academy of Otolaryngology, Pennsylvania American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, Pennsylvania Chapter of the American College of Cardiology, Pennsylvania Chapter of the American College of Emergency Physicians, Pennsylvania Chapter of the American College of Physicians, Pennsylvania Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, Pennsylvania Medical Society Alliance, Pennsylvania Medical Society, Pennsylvania Neurosurgical Society, Pennsylvania Orthopaedic Society, Pennsylvania Psychiatric Society, Pennsylvania Society of Anesthesiologists, Pennsylvania Society of Gastroenterology, Pennsylvania Society of Oncology & Hematology, Robert H. Ivy Society of Plastic Surgeons, and Urological Association of Pennsylvania.

This news release was issued on behalf of Newswise™. For more information, visit http://www.newswise.com.

 

SOURCE Pennsylvania Medical Society