MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A major sticking point in the health care battle is proposed changes to Medicaid.
A report from the Congressional Budget Office says 15 million fewer Americans would be covered under the latest Senate proposal by 2026.
Medicaid started back in 1965 as part of Lyndon Johnson’s “Great Society.”
It pays for health care for the poor, disabled and elderly. One in five Americans — 76 million people — are on Medicaid. Those numbers include 39 percent of all American children, half of births and two-thirds of people in nursing homes.
The program is funded by states and federal government, making up almost 10 percent of federal spending.
The largest group of enrollees are children (43 percent), followed by adults (36 percent), people with disabilities (13 percent) and the elderly (8 percent).
Of the elderly Medicaid population, many are in nursing homes. Some people went into nursing care with little or no savings, while others spent down their savings on long-term care before qualifying for help.
Beyond paying for health care, Medicaid also pays for services like personal care, school-based help and job coaching for people with disabilities.
Children under 18 from families below 138 percent of the federal poverty line ($33,000 for a family of four) qualify.
Each state varies in its eligibility rules, but parents and pregnant women were always eligible at 138 percent of the federal poverty line.
More recently, with the Affordable Care Act, Medicaid expanded to include more low-income single people.
Since 2009, 11 million people from 31 states became eligible for Medicaid.
While children make up 43 percent of Medicaid recipients, they only make up about 20 percent of the spending.
More of the dollars go toward the elderly and people with disabilities.