HAP through the Years: 1960–1970
June 25, 2021
During 2021, The Hospital and Healthsystem Association of Pennsylvania (HAP) proudly marks its centennial with a look back at 100 years of milestones, advocacy, and support for Pennsylvania’s hospitals.
This week, HAP provides a look at health care during the 1960s, a decade that saw the founding of the Medicare and the transformation of America’s health care system.
The launch of Medicare: The 1960s saw the growth of government-supported health insurance, first through The Kerr-Mills Act and later through the implementation of the federal Medicare and Medicaid programs. Earlier in the decade, HAP advocated for Pennsylvania lawmakers to participate in the Kerr-Mills program to receive matching federal funds. By 1962, Pennsylvania began its Medical Assistance to the Aged program, bringing in $30 million annually for Pennsylvania hospitals to care for people 65 and older.
The nation’s Medicare program was signed into law on July 30, 1965. In addition to providing coverage for older Americans, the federally funded health care program played an important role in the desegregation efforts of the 1960s, historians note. Hospitals across the nation looking to access funds from the nascent government health care program could not participate until they complied with Title VI of the 1964 Civil Rights Act.
Fun fact: At the bill-signing ceremony, President Lyndon B. Johnson enrolled President Truman as the first Medicare beneficiary and presented him with the nation’s first Medicare card.
Quotable: “The benefits under the law are as varied and broad as the marvelous modern medicine itself,” President Johnson said during the ceremony signing the Medicare Bill into law at the Truman Library in Independence, Missouri.
Advocacy: HAP founded the Hospital Educational and Research Foundation of Pennsylvania during 1961. The foundation received its first major grant four years later from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation to support hospital services in long-term care.
On the move: Citing a need for more space, HAP leaders decided to move from their office in downtown Harrisburg at 610 North Third Street to a location in Camp Hill on the west side of the Susquehanna river. The HAP staff moved into the headquarters on the Monday after Thanksgiving 1968. Construction on the 17,000-square-foot building took 11 months to complete, records show.
The dawn of computers: Records indicate Harrisburg Hospital was the first hospital in the state to install an electronic computer, marking the beginning of a technological trend across the commonwealth. During 1967, HAP launched a statewide study to determine the feasibility of the state’s hospitals to participate in a shared computer program.