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The Medicare Act, 1965

This official copy of the Medicare Act bears the signatures of the Speaker of the House, the Vice President and the President. The notation of the place, date, and time of the signing is unusual. The president’s uneven signature results from his using multiple pens—gifts to key sponsors of the bill.

General Records of the U.S. Government, National Archives and Records Administration

The Medicare Act, 1965 The Medicare Act, 1965

Guaranteeing Health Care for the Elderly

In the 1960s, public attention focused on rising health care costs for the elderly. Congress responded in 1965 with the Medicare Act to provide seniors with medical insurance. Medicare was an amendment to the Social Security Act of 1935, becoming the first major addition to the landmark social legislation of the 1930s—laws that had signaled a new relationship between the government and its citizens. When enacted, 36 million senior citizens benefited from the Medicare program.