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By Joseph Smith

Created in 1965, Medicaid is a public insurance program that provides health coverage to low-income families and individuals, including children, parents, pregnant women, seniors, and people with disabilities. It is funded jointly by the federal government and the states, and each state operates its own Medicaid program within federal guidelines. As a result, Medicaid eligibility and benefits can vary widely from state to state.

In order to receive federal funding, states must cover:

  • Children through age 18 in families with income below 138 percent of the federal poverty line.
  • People who are pregnant and have income below 138 percent of the poverty line.
  • Certain parents or caretakers with very low income.
  • Most seniors and people with disabilities who receive cash assistance through the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program.

Medicaid has historically played an important role in state and federal responses to public health emergencies, including natural disasters, disease outbreaks, and others, such as the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. Its enrollment expands to meet rising needs during an economic downturn when people lose their jobs and job-based health coverage. Most recently, Medicaid played a key role in the response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Important Facts About Medicaid:

  • Anyone with Medicaid coverage is eligible to receive services such as doctor and nursing care, X-rays, hospitalization, home health care, and lab and X-ray services. Some states may offer expanded coverage for prescriptions, physical therapy, dental services, and medical transportation.
  • Children and seniors are the vast majority of covered individuals in the state and federal program.
  • Medicaid pays the bills for 62 percent of long-term care residents in nursing homes.
  • Around 43 percent of all births in the U.S. are covered by Medicaid, and nearly 37 million children receive Medicaid health coverage.

Medicaid is sometimes confused with Medicare, the federal health insurance program for people over 65 and some people with disabilities. While these programs have distinct differences, there is overlap between the two programs: nearly 10 million low-income seniors and people with disabilities are enrolled in both Medicare and Medicaid.

We know that Retirement Security is the number one issue that our members care about.  Affordable health care and prescription drugs is a close second. That is precisely why we are calling on Congress to raise or eliminate the debt ceiling with no cuts to Social Security, Medicare, or Medicaid. Join us today!

Go to to find out how your local can get involved today!

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