It’s hard to believe that it’s been half of a century since President Lyndon B. Johnson signed Medicaid, along with Medicare, into law. Even though Medicare more commonly provides coverage for a smaller fraction of the patients in a typical ob-gyn practice, it still is an example of a national program that works very well, providing coverage for more than 50 million people. Over the past 50 years, Medicaid has grown to cover more than 71 million Americans — nearly one in ten women relies on Medicaid for health coverage which includes family planning, screening for breast and cervical cancer, and long-term services and support. In fact, Medicaid covered 45% of all U.S. births in 2010 and plays a critical role in ensuring access to pregnancy-related care. Without Medicaid, many women would struggle to access or be unable to afford the care we provide.
Already 29 states and the District of Columbia have recognized the value of Medicaid and expanded their programs under the Affordable Care Act. This provides low-income women with routine and preventive care, including preconception care and family planning, which in turn helps women have healthy pregnancies and live healthier lives.
Medicaid covers a robust variety of services for its enrollees. Federal law requires all state Medicaid programs to cover many comprehensive benefits to women including:
- Family planning services
- Inpatient hospital services
- Outpatient hospital services
- Physician services
- Tobacco cessation counseling for pregnant women
- Transportation to medical care
- Prescription coverage is an optional service category that all states currently choose to cover
So, Happy Birthday, Medicare and Medicaid! Thanks for ensuring that our older population, our disabled and our low-income women have access to the health services they need. Here’s to another 50 years, and beyond, of quality coverage!