Major Players in Passing Medicare and Medicaid Legislation
To celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the enactment of Medicare and Medicaid legislation on July 30, the National Association for Home Care & Hospice is recognizing individuals who played an important role in passing the legislation throughout July.
Hubert Horatio Humphrey, Jr. was a United States Senator from Minnesota and Vice President of the United States. Born in Wallace, South Dakota, on May 27, 1911, Humphrey was forced to abandon his dream of attending college at the University of Minnesota after a short time due to the onset of the Great Depression. Instead, he attended the Denver College of Pharmacy and completed two years of course work in only six months in order to return home to help his father run the family drugstore. Four years later, he was able to return to the University of Minnesota where he received his degree.
Humphrey would settle in Minnesota, working as a professor of political science at Macalester College, as the assistant director of the War Manpower Commission, and as a radio commentator, before running for and winning election to become the youngest Mayor of Minneapolis at age 34. As Mayor from 1945 to 1948, Humphrey developed a reputation for fighting bigotry. In 1948, Humphrey emerged on the national scene when he led the fight for a strong civil rights platform at the 1948 Democratic National Convention. That same year he was elected to the United States Senate, where he would serve for a total of more than 20 years.
As Senator, Humphrey served in leadership and promoted a wide variety of health care, social welfare, civil rights, tax reform, and jobs legislation. The first bill he introduced was a proposal to establish medical care for the elderly financed through the Social Security system, a proposal that would later be enacted as Medicare in 1965. Humphrey once said, “The moral test of government is how that government treats those who are in the dawn of life—the children those who are in the twilight of life—the elderly; and those who are in the shadows of life—the sick, the needy, and the handicapped.” His legislation also created the Peace Corps, Job Corps, Youth Conservation Corps, Department of Housing Urban Development, Commodities Futures Trading Commission, Food for Peace, Food Stamps, Federal School Lunch, and Head Start.
After leading the effort to pass the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Humphrey became Vice President under President Lyndon Johnson. After running as the Democratic Party’s nominee for President in 1968, Humphrey was reelected to the United States Senate in 1971 where he continued his record of important domestic achievements until he died of cancer in 1978.