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Health Care Bill Gets Plug from Andy Griffith

Here are two indisputable facts:  on July 30, 1965, the Andy Griffith Show was one of the most popular television shows being broadcast at the time.  And, on that same date President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Social Security Act of 1965, which introduced the nation to a new program called Medicare.   The first two social security card recipients were Harry and Bess Truman.

So, it seems fitting that Andy Griffith, now most certainly the age of many Medicare recipients, is a spokesperson for Medicare’s $700,000 ad campaign, preceding the open enrollment period by several months.

Although the ad is Medicare focused, President Obama’s health care reform bill gets a plug from one of the most trusted and popular television icons in history.  According to USA Today, Griffith states the following:  “With the new health care law, more good things are coming -- free checkups, lower prescription costs, and better ways to protect us and Medicare from fraud. See what else is new -- I think you're going to like it.”

The new law, which President Obama signed into law in March 2010, is the most radical change in health care since July 1965.

Opponents of the bill were quick to respond to the ad by reminding taxpayers that in order to remain solvent for the next dozen years, seniors will be forced to relinquish some of their most treasured benefits, including Medicare Advantage plans.

Obama’s health care bill has some things in common with the original Medicare program, and that is that there are those who voiced opposition to both laws, believing that they would lead the country into socialism.In fact, while campaigning for the senate in 1964, George H. W. Bush referred to the Medicare as “socialized medicine.”(St. Petersburg Times)

Part of the dissatisfaction with the Medicare system comes from the fact that a major source of funding for the program comes from payroll taxes, which is counterintuitive, making the baby boomer population problematic; population growth has not kept pace in subsequent generations.

According to the New York Times, in 1998, Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan warned a bi-partisan committee that if changes were not made to the program, Medicare would be in serious trouble by the time the first 76 million baby boomers turn 65 in 2011.

Specifically, he stated that the aging of baby boomers ''will add nearly 20 percent to the level of health care spending.”

Only time will tell whether or not the Griffith ad will convince naysayers.