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Medicare and Medicaid face growing pains at age 50

Fifty years ago on Thursday, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed legislation establishing the Medicare program to provide health coverage for seniors and the Medicaid program to cover the poor. But it was former President Harry S. Truman who, in Johnson’s words, “planted the seeds of compassion” that laid the groundwork for both federal programs. In an address to Congress on Nov. 19, 1945, Truman became the first president to propose a comprehensive health insurance program, noting that large numbers of U.S. men had failed their World War II induction physicals because of poor health.