(CNN) — Sen. Bernie Sanders introduced his “Medicare for All” bill Wednesday, marking the latest chapter in a national conversation about the government’s role in health care.
Here’s a brief look back at the history of health care legislation, starting with the passage of Medicare and Medicaid, which were themselves the subject of long national debates.
Medicare and the Johnson era
On July 30, 1965, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Social Security Amendments of 1965 into law. The landmark legislation established the Medicare program, which provided hospital insurance and medical assistance to Americans over the age of 65. It also created the program that would come to be known as Medicaid, giving medical assistance to those deemed unable to afford insurance. It was a pivotal moment.
“No longer will older Americans be denied the healing miracle of modern medicine. No longer will illness crush and destroy the savings that they have so carefully put away over a lifetime so that they might enjoy dignity in their later years. No longer will young families see their own incomes, and their own hopes, eaten away simply because they are carrying out their deep moral obligations to their parents, and to their uncles, and their aunts,” Johnson said at the bill signing event in Independence, Missouri.
The passage of the legislation was far from easy.
“Until then there had only been unsuccessful efforts to create robust national health insurance programs,” said Julian Zelizer, a Princeton history professor and CNN contributor who wrote The Fierce Urgency of Now: Lyndon Johnson, Congress, and the Battle for the Great Society.
Presidents Franklin D. Roosevelt and Harry S. Truman had both pushed for forms of national health insurance and failed. President John F. Kennedy advocated for Medicare in 1962 and 1963, and Johnson took up the mantle following Kennedy’s assassination, Zelizer said. Advocates of the plans were faced with fierce…