President Lyndon B. Johnson signed Medicare and Medicaid into law on July 30, 1965 as amendments to the Social Security Act. Medicaid and Medicare began as programs to provide health insurance to low-income Americans.
Throughout the years, different presidents and Congress have made changes to expand eligibility to other populations and to and provide more benefits to increase health and wellness. Now, fifty-two years later these programs provide funding for millions of older adults and people with disabilities to live meaningful lives in the community.
Medicaid provides the majority of long-term care funding that allows individuals to receive home and community based services. Nonelderly adults with disabilities compose only 15% of total Medicaid enrollment but use 42% of the program spending (Kaiser Family Foundation). These funds have helped with the deinstitutionalization of individauls with disabilities and help to provide services and supports that allow individuals to live and work in the community.
Our field is facing great deal of uncertainty with how the funding of Medicaid will look after Congress comes to a decision on the fate of healthcare. All eyes are on Washington, DC, as advocates from across the country work tirelessly to educate others that Medicaid and Medicare are the lifeline for services and supports for older adults and individuals with disabilities to live the lives they choose. We can’t forget where we’ve come from as a nation that is dedicated the health and well being of all our citizens.