Forbes July 30, 2021
Today, Medicare and Medicaid mark their 56th birthday. They were signed into law by President Lyndon Johnson to ensure that seniors and the poor had access to quality, affordable health coverage as part of his Great Society.
They’ve grown far beyond what their creators envisioned. In 1967, the House Ways and Means Committee forecast that the program would cost $12 billion by 1990. The actual tab that year was $110 billion—nearly 10 times higher. In 2019, Medicare spending was just under $800 billion.
Medicaid isn’t far behind. Spending on the program has surged from roughly $3 billion in 1967 to $613 billion in 2019. It now covers more than 74 million people—about one in five Americans. In 1967, just under...