This year nearly 1 million West Virginians will be able to receive medical treatment or long-term care because 50 years ago on July 30 President Lyndon Johnson signed legislation to create the Medicare and Medicaid programs.
These programs help low-income adults, children, pregnant women, the elderly and people with disabilities by providing them access to quality and affordable health care. West Virginians for Affordable Health Care observed the anniversary by touting the benefits Medicaid and Medicare provide.
“Over the years, I’ve treated hundreds of patients who would have become more disabled or even died without Medicare and Medicaid,” said Dr. Dan Foster, a surgeon and president of WVAHC. “I’ve fought for health coverage for all West Virginians because I’ve personally seen what health insurance means when people get sick,” Foster said.
“And I can see that with health coverage that pays for regular check-ups and preventive services, my patients can stay healthy and actually spend less time in my office.”
Medicare and Medicaid today not only continue to protect American families when sickness strikes, but also are driving transformation to the nation’s health care system that lower costs and improve quality.
“We’re grateful in West Virginia for how Medicare and Medicaid have helped the people of our state,” said Terri Giles, executive director of WVAHC. “But we also acknowledge how these two government programs are creating a better national health care system by setting standards for how quality care is delivered.
“As we reflect on the past five decades, we must also look ahead and explore ways to strengthen and improve health care for future generations,” Giles said.
Foster pointed out the long-term financial viability of Medicare and Medicaid depends on a continued focus on promoting a healthy population so the system works for people before they get sick.
“This type of health care system creates healthier, happier and more productive West Virginians and saves all of us money,” Foster said.