What is Medicaid?

Medicaid is the nation's primary way of financing and delivering community-based health and long-term services to children and adults with disabilities. It is the nation's largest health care program, and serves nearly 60 million low-income Americans, including an estimated 9.9 million people with disabilities.

Learn more about Medicaid.

View in plain language What is Medicaid?



Related Legislation

Social Security

Social Security Amendments of 1965 (PL 89-97)

  • Established Medicaid Benefits
  • Enacted July 30, 1965

Social Security Amendments of 1967 (P.L. 90-248)

  • Established Early and Periodic Screening, Diagnosis, and Treatment (EPSDT) comprehensive health services benefit for all children getting Medicaid.
  • Enacted January 2, 1968

Social Security Amendments of 1972 (P.L. 92-603)

  • Medicaid eligibility for elderly, blind and disabled residents of a state was linked to eligibility for the newly enacted Federal Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program.
  • Enacted October 20, 1972

Children's Health Insurance Program

The Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) was created in 1997 to give health insurance and preventive care to nearly 11 million, or 1 in 7, uninsured American children. Many of these children came from uninsured working families that earned too much to be eligible for Medicaid. All 50 states, the District of Columbia, and the territories have CHIP plans. CHIP is administered by states, according to federal requirements. The program is funded jointly by states and the federal government.

History of CHIP Legislation

 Balanced Budget Act of 1997 (BBA 97, P.L. 105-33)

  • The Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) was created; limits on Medicaid payments to disproportionate share hospitals were revised; new Medicaid managed care options and requirements for states were established.
  • Enacted August 5, 1997

Children Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act of 2009

  • extended CHIP through 2013

Affordable Care Act (ACA)

  • extended CHIP an additional two years through 2015

Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018

  • Reauthorized CHIP through 2027
Additional Legislation

Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1981 (OBRA 81, P.L. 97-35)

  • Freedom of choice waivers and home and community-based care waivers were established in Medicaid.
  • Enacted August 31, 1981

Ticket to Work and Work Incentives Improvement Act of 1999 (P.L. 106-170)

  • Expanded the availability of Medicare and Medicaid for certain disabled beneficiaries who return to work. The law established optional Medicaid eligibility groups and allowed states to offer a buy-in to Medicaid for working-age individuals with disabilities
  • Enacted December 17, 1999

Home and Community Based Services (HCBS) Final Rule (Section 1915(i))

  • Amendment to Social Security Act amended by the Affordable Care Act
  • Provide opportunities for Medicaid beneficiaries to receive services in their own home or community rather than institutions or other isolated settings. These programs serve a variety of targeted populations groups, such as people with intellectual or developmental disabilities, physical disabilities, and/or mental illnesses.
  • Enacted January 16, 2014

Money Follows the Person (MFP) Rebalancing Demonstration Grant

  • Helps states rebalance their Medicaid long-term care systems. Over 75,151 people with chronic conditions and disabilities have transitioned from institutions back into the community through MFP programs as of December 2016. The Affordable Care Act of 2010 strengthened and expanded the MFP program allowing more states to apply. There are currently forty-three states and the District of Columbia participating in the demonstration.
  • Learn more about Money Follows the Person.

Medicaid Services Investment and Accountability Act

  • Reauthorizes MFP through 2019