On July 30, 1965, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Medicare and Medicaid Bill into law. At that time, Americans 65 and older were the age group least likely to have health insurance. Fifty years later, virtually all seniors have health insurance, a higher coverage rate than younger people. Presidents and lawmakers of both political parties have collaborated to expand Medicare benefits.
Medicaid, the federal-state program for low-income and disabled people, got off to a slower start. Back then, Medicaid eligibility was tied to receiving government welfare checks. Now however, the welfare reform law broke the link between Medicaid and welfare. Medicaid currently covers an estimated 69 million people, making it the largest government health program.