The History of Medicaid and How it Can Affect Your Life

This blog is going to be a little different as I am going to write about the history of Medicaid. Why, you ask, is this important? Well I am going to let you, as the reader, decide if it is or not. What I hope is that this information will encourage you to look up your own state’s Medicaid system information available from the “Medicaid Info by State” menu tab above.

As early as 1945, President Truman proposed a national health care program to Congress. He was concerned about the lack of health care for all Americans, but particularly for children. It took 20 years for the United States Congress to vote on a national health care program and pass it into law. President Johnson signed the law in July, 1965, to create the Medicaid and Medicare programs. Medicaid was designed to provide health services to people who cannot afford them on their own. Medicaid services and programs are managed by each state. The services provided and eligibility requirements may vary from state to state although minimum levels are set by the federal government. Use the “Medicaid Info by State” or the “What is Medicaid?” menu tabs above to get more information.

Of course, the Medicaid program has changed over the years. For example, in 1981 the waiver program was added to allow people to have some choice in selecting their health care provider and their home- or community-based care program. The waiver program is not just to pay for traditional physical care but also to help people learn how to do tasks. For example, a provider of Medicaid waiver services might teach people how to clean their home so that they can live on their own in the community. It also allows people to have more say in which services are the most important to them, because they have the greatest impact on their lives.

Although President Johnson signed the law to create Medicaid (and Medicare) in 1965, it took until 1982 for all 50 of the states to participate. The last state to join the Medicaid program was Arizona.

Another of the services that has been added to Medicaid is dental care. Getting access to dental care has been a big problem for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities—one study found that more than one-fifth of people with I/DD did not brush their teeth daily. Medicaid can help solve this problem. Not all states participate in the dental care portion of Medicaid so check above (in the “Medicaid Info by State” tab) to see if your state provides it.

A change in the Medicaid program will be coming in 2014 with the Affordable Health Care Act of 2010, which will expand the number of people who will be eligible for Medicaid services. It will provide Medicaid for more low-income families, even if they do not have children.

I encourage you to find out more about your own state’s Medicaid program so that you know if you are eligible for Medicaid, if you might become eligible, and so you know of all of the appropriate services you can get. If you would like more information about the history of Medicaid, please see:

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