Senator Jay Rockefeller today released the following statement on the 47th anniversary of the historic Medicare and Medicaid programs, which help provide health care to so many Americans:
"Medicare and Medicaid are just as important today as they were 47 years ago. This landmark legislation, signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson on July 30, 1965, has changed the lives of hundreds of millions Americans by providing affordable health care coverage to those who need it. Medicare and Medicaid are vital to strengthening the middle class. Just in West Virginia, we have more than 380,000 enrolled in Medicare and nearly 430,000 enrolled in Medicaid. These aren't just any federal programs, but crucial safety nets for so many who rely on them.
"Medicare and Medicaid will only strengthen with the passing of the health care reform law -- the prescription drug coverage doughnut hole will be closed, an expansion of Medicaid will be possible, and preventive services will be covered. Medicaid is helping our economy, as well. Nearly 20,000 West Virginia jobs are currently made possible by Medicaid funding. And with the Medicaid expansion, every $100 million in new federal Medicaid funding would create almost 2,000 new jobs in our state, $183 million in increased business activity, and $64 million in increased wages.
"As we celebrate 47 years of Medicare and Medicaid, let us remember the millions people they help every year, and continue to always work to make them better and stronger."