Medicaid is a complex entitlement program for many people who can’t afford adequate health care, including single parents and their children, the disabled and the elderly (some of whom also receive Medicare benefits as so-called “dual eligibles”). It is funded as a joint venture by states and the federal government, with each state determining the exact scope of its program, payment rates and specific eligibility standards. The federal government, meanwhile, establishes general guidelines for the programs and monitors their enforcement through the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). Participation is voluntary; however, every state has been signed up since the last holdout, Arizona, created its Medicaid variant in 1982.
President Lyndon B. Johnson helped establish Medicaid when he signed the Social Security Act of 1965 into law on July 30 of that year. The new program was an outgrowth of the Social Rehabilitation Administration in the Department of Health, Education and Welfare. Originally viewed as a narrow measure targeting specific segments of the poor population, Medicaid started expanding beyond its original scope almost immediately, eventually going from some 15 million enrollees in the 1960s to over 50 million by 2008. As enrollment has increased, so too has the assortment of benefits and their associated costs (for more information, see the Reform section below).
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, a division in the Department of Human and Health Services, works with states to provide Medicaid. Each state administers its own Medicaid program, with the CMS setting minimum eligibility, funding and quality standards by which they must abide.
(by Andy Miller, Atlanta Journal-Constitution)
The Congressional Budget Office has laid out the following options in reforming Medicaid:
(Kaiser Family Foundation)
Can Medicaid Survive?
A New Mexico native, Kerry Weems was appointed Acting Administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services in September 2007. Weems has bachelor’s degrees in business administration and philosophy from New Mexico State University, and a Master of Business Administration degree from the University of New Mexico.