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Medicare is a federally legislated program that provides low-cost hospitalization and medical insurance primarily for American seniors over the age of 65, who currently account for about one third of all health care dollars spent in the United States—more than $300 billion annually. Although a presidential committee considered creating a health insurance program for the elderly as early as 1934, it was not until 1965 that President Lyndon Johnson signed Medicare into law as part of the Social Security Act. Medicaid, a health safety net program for low-income Americans, was enacted the same year. Initially, both programs were the responsibility of the Social Security Administration. As the programs expanded and became more complex, the Health Care Financing Administration (HCFA) was created in 1977 to effectively ...

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