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Medicare And Medicaid Turn 50

On July 30,1965 President Lyndon B. Johnson signed legislation that created Medicare and Medicaid. Today, there are hundreds of thousands of beneficiaries who live in San Diego County.

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A pair of federal health programs, that have transformed health care delivery in the U.S., mark a key milestone in July.

President Lyndon B. Johnson signed legislation on July 30, 1965 that created Medicare for the elderly and Medicaid for low-income adults, children, pregnant women and the disabled.

David Sayen, California's regional administrator for the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, said the program really set the standard for insurance costs.

Fifty years later, less than 2 percent of seniors are uninsured compared to 48 percent before Medicare, according to the U.S. Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Nationwide, 55 million Americans have Medicare including 467,000 in San Diego County.

But the programs could use streamlining, said Susan Channick, co-director of the Institute for Health Law Studies at California Western School of Law.

"People are living longer than they were in 1965," Channick told KPBS Midday Edition on Thursday. "We have a much bigger population and we probably have a much sicker population."

Channick also said the programs have a "strange" insurance design compared to what most insurance companies use today.

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