The History of Medicare
In 1965, the Social Security Act established both Medicare and Medicaid. Medicare was a responsibility of the Social Security Administration (SSA), while Federal assistance to the State Medicaid programs was administered by the Social and Rehabilitation Service (SRS). SSA and SRS were agencies in the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare (HEW). In 1977, the Health Care Financing Administration was created under HEW to effectively coordinate Medicare and Medicaid. In 1980 HEW was divided into the Department of Education and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).
The first U.S. President to propose a prepaid health insurance plan was Harry S. Truman. On November 19, 1945, in a special message to Congress, President Truman outlined a comprehensive, prepaid medical insurance plan for all people through the Social Security system. The plan included doctors and hospitals, and nursing, laboratory, and dental services; it was dubbed "National Health Insurance." Furthermore, medical insurance benefits for needy people were to be financed from Federal revenues.
Over the years, lawmakers narrowed the field of health insurance recipients largely to social security beneficiaries. A national survey found that only 56 percent of those 65 years of age or older had health insurance. President John F. Kennedy pressed legislators for health insurance for the aged. However, it wasn't until 1965 that President Lyndon B. Johnson signed H.R. 6675 (The Social Security Act of 1965; PL 89-97) to provide health insurance for the elderly and the poor.