Medicaid

Medicaid

Medicaid is a federal and state social health care program for families and individuals with limited resources.  It has been alternatively described as a "government insurance program for persons of all ages whose income and resources are insufficient to pay for health care."  Medicaid is the largest source of funding for medical and health-related services for people with low income in the U.S.  It is a means-tested program that is jointly funded by the state and federal governments and managed by the states, with each state currently having broad leeway to determine who is eligible for its implementation of the program.  States are not required to participate in the program, although all have since 1982.  Tennessee, through a Federal waiver, participates through its own unique TennCare program.  Medicaid recipients must be U.S. citizens or legal permanent residents, and may include low-income adults, their children, and people with certain disabilities.  Poverty alone does not necessarily qualify someone for Medicaid.

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) significantly expanded both eligibility for and federal funding of state Medicaid programs.  Under the law as written, all U.S. citizens and legal residents with income up to 133% of the poverty level - including adults without dependent children - would qualify for coverage in any state that participated in the Medicaid program.  However, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in NFIB v. Sebelius that states do not have to agree to this expansion in order to continue to receive previously established levels of Medicaid funding, and many states have chosen to continue with pre-ACA funding levels and eligibility standards.