Edward Hospital marks 50th anniversary of country's first Medicare beneficiary

July 22, 2016
Edward Medicare Birthplace With a ceremony on July 20, Edward Hospital in Naperville commemorated the 50th anniversary of the first person in the United States to receive Medicare benefits. 

On July 1, 1966, Lillian Grace Avery, a 68-year-old Naperville resident, signed papers while she was a patient at Edward Hospital that made her the country's first Medicare beneficiary. 

Medicare, which was signed into law in 1965, is the federal health insurance program for people over 65, and certain disabled people under 65. 

Speakers at the event included Pam Davis, System CEO, Edward-Elmhurst Health; Rep. Bill Foster, who represents the 11th Congressional District of Illinois and Duane Carlson, who as a member of the communication staff of the national Blue Cross Association, was involved in the selection of Avery as the first beneficiary. 

Davis, Rep. Foster and Carlson unveiled a plaque that will be on display in Edward Hospital to memorialize the historic occasion.