On 50th anniversary of Medicare signing, program’s future uncertain

Fifty years after then-President Lyndon Johnson ventured to Independence to sign Medicare into law alongside former President Harry Truman at Truman’s presidential library, the future of the landmark health care legislation is murky.

Johnson signed the measure on July 30, 1965, saying Truman had “planted the seeds of compassion and duty” that led to the enactment of Medicare, the national health insurance program for the elderly.

Truman, then 81, got the first Medicare card. Today, some 55.2 Americans, including more than 1 million Missourians, rely on the program.

That high participation, though, puts strain on the program, which paid out $613 billion nationwide in 2014. A report published this month by the Board of Trustees for Medicare programs said Medicare’s Part A trust fund fails the short-range test of “financial adequacy.”

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