April 01, 2013

Report from the ACA Battlefront: Medicaid, the ACA, and the Supreme Court

Dennis J. Wall

More than 58 million Americans rely on Medicaid for health care. Medicare, rather than Medicaid, is often thought to be the program that takes care of older people, but more than nine million Medicaid recipients are 65 years and older and enrolled in both Medicaid and Medicare—that is, more than nine million older Americans are “dual eligible,” relying on Medicaid, as well as Medicare, for their health care. In total, the Medicaid program is critical to the health and well-being of one-fifth of the U.S. population.

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) would have extended Medicaid coverage to nearly 10 million more of the nearly 50 million uninsured people in our country. However, National Federation of Independent Business v. Sebelius has jeopardized that expansion and the health care that would have been provided as a result.

Medicaid provides health insurance coverage to people with low incomes who fit within certain statutory categories. Medicaid is jointly funded by the federal and state governments. Participation in Medicaid is not mandatory, but all states currently do participate in Medicaid. The options available for state participation are many, but states must follow certain federal rules if they elect to participate in Medicaid.

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