As we celebrate the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King on Monday, many people overlook the important role that Medicare played in the Civil Rights movement.

By threatening to withhold federal funding from any hospital that practiced racial discrimination, as required by Title VI of the Civil Rights Act, passed in 1964, Medicare forced the desegregation of every hospital in America virtually overnight.  At the time, many southern hospitals were segregated.  If these hospitals wanted to receive Medicare funds, however, they would need to desegregate.

Lyndon Johnson was determined to use Medicare to force these hospitals to change, so he sent 1,000 inspectors south to determine whether hospitals were in compliance with federal law.  They found half of the hospitals to be delinquent.  Southern hospitals, it seemed, hoped that the federal government would simply give up, when they realized the size of the challenge they faced.  But Johnson refused to back down and all US hospitals were soon desegregated.

You can read more about the role of Medicare in the Civil Rights Movement at the below link.

US News & World Report

About Jerry

Jerold E. Rothkoff, a practicing New Jersey and Pennsylvania attorney, is the Principal of the Rothkoff Law Group, an elder care law firm. Jerry dedicates his practice to serving clients in the areas of life care planning, long-term care planning, Medicaid & VA benefits, and advocacy for the elderly and disabled. He is past President of the NJ Chapter of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys, former chair of the elder law section of the NJ State Bar Association, and past President of the Life Care Planning Law Firm Association. Jerry continues to be an outspoken advocate for the rights of the elderly and disabled. He writes for and gives presentations regularly to attorneys and other professionals about legal issues related to seniors and those with disabilities. Jerry’s community activities include the Twilight Wish Foundation, the Delaware Valley Stroke Council, the Alzheimer’s Association, as well as numerous other advocacy groups. When not in the office, Jerry spends time with his wife, Erica, and their five children, eighteen-year old identical twin girls, Liza and Julia, fifteen-year old fraternal twin boys, Evan and Gregory, and six-year old Aitan.

Leave a Reply