Medicaid, an aid program under intense scrutiny now, is a joint federal and state program that provides health coverage to almost 70 million Americans, including children, pregnant women, parents, seniors and individuals with disabilities, according to the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Medicaid now accounts for about 10 percent of all federal expenditures, according to an analysis by The Plain Facts.
Medicaid is the single largest source of health coverage in the United States. Medicaid was signed into law in 1965 at the same time as the Medicare program. All states, the District of Columbia, and the U.S. territories have Medicaid programs designed to provide health coverage for low-income people. About 12 percent of all Medicaid payments go to physicians, while about 11 percent is used for prescription drugs.
Although the Federal government establishes certain parameters for all states to follow, each state administers their Medicaid program differently, resulting in variations in Medicaid coverage across the country. Beginning in 2014, the Affordable Care Act provided states the authority to expand Medicaid eligibility to individuals under age 65 in families with incomes below 133 percent of the Federal Poverty Level.
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