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Medicare turns 50; fight for more benefits continues

Ellen Abbott

There was no cake, but Medicare’s 50th birthday was serenaded by a few dozen Central New Yorkers in downtown Syracuse Thursday. 

Medicare and Medicaid were signed into law in 1965, and have been providing medical care for the poor and elderly ever since.  Robert O’Connor of Onondaga County’s AARP, says the milestone is worth noting.

"A lot of programs don’t last that long.  Johnson started it officially in 1965.  Its 50 years for Medicare and Medicaid. Its 80 years for Social Security this summer.  It’s a big deal because it’s helped so many people.  And so many people have benefited and want it to continue.”

With the program’s spending ballooning into the billions in recent years, O’Connor says he’ll continue to fight efforts to cut back on benefits. He says the best way to deal with the financial issues the entitlement programs face, is to get more revenue.

“There are a sizable number of people that earn more income from investments and they’re not paying anymore,” O’Connor says. “They’re not paying a higher percentage than lower income people.  And if we could raise that band significantly it would pay off a lot of these problems.”

Ellen produces news reports and features related to events that occur in the greater Syracuse area and throughout Onondaga County. Her reports are heard regularly in regional updates in Morning Edition and All Things Considered.