President Lyndon Johnson signs the bill creating Medicare at the Truman Library in Independence, MO, July 30, 1965. Seated with him is the elderly former President Truman who first proposed Medicare for the elderly. He was the first person enrolled in the new program.
Truman first proposed Medicare for the elderly as a compromise after the failure of his effort to create a national health insurance program. The resistance to that modest proposal was ferocious. John F. Kennedy tried and failed repeatedly to pass Medicare; first as a Senator, then as President. This program, first proposed in the late 1940s, did not become law until almost 20 years later. I wonder if it would ever have passed if Kennedy had lived.