Fifty years ago, I sat with parents in the gallery of the United States Senate the night that the first Medicare legislation was voted on. We sat in the front row of the center gallery, directly above John F. Kennedy, the junior senator from Massachusetts, and directly across the chamber from Richard Nixon, vice president of the United States, both of whom were running against each other in the presidential election of 1960.
At the time, both of my mother’s parents were aging, her mother with a catastrophic medical history (she had suffered a massive stroke that left her unable to move, to talk or to eat solid food). Both of them really needed Medicare.
They didn’t get Medicare that night; the bill went down to defeat, not to be passed until 1965, too late for my grandparents, who had died.
So I watched the vote last night in the House of Representatives with a friend who had worked for many years in the Nation’s Capital for an organization lobbying for home health care. Although I know that the politics of the issue are still not settled, I was gratified to see this reform occur in my lifetime (and in my parents’ lifetime)