Medicaid turns 50 today, and if it were a person, the people showing up to its birthday party would come from all walks of life. Known as Medical Assistance here in Minnesota, Medicaid offers affordable health care options for infants, the elderly, people with disabilities and workers whose employers don’t offer health insurance.
Of course, Medicaid won’t actually have a party. That means it is incumbent on all of us to celebrate that more than one million Minnesotans have the health care they need thanks to Medical Assistance, including:
- 1 in 3 children in Minnesota. Research shows that children who get health care through Medicaid are more likely to succeed in school and earn more as adults.
- 15 percent of Minnesota’s seniors. Through Medical Assistance, almost 100,000 seniors receive health care services that often help them live at home, or receive the care they need in nursing homes. Such long-term services are not covered by Medicare, which is also turning 50 today.
- 1 in 4 of the state’s adults with disabilities. Medical Assistance makes it easier to live independently by covering supports like personal care assistants.
- Nearly half of the newborns in our state. Medical Assistance covers mothers (and their children). That’s good news for babies, who are more likely to grow up healthy when they are covered by insurance even before they are born.
- Lots of working adults. In 2013, about 237,000 working Minnesotans age 18 to 64 received health insurance through Medical Assistance or another means-tested form of public coverage.
Birthdays offer mile markers in time that allow us to reflect both on where we’ve been and where we are going. The numbers above show that Medical Assistance has plenty to celebrate on Medicaid’s 50th birthday. These statistics also remind us of the crucial role it plays in providing affordable health care to many of our neighbors. Without Medical Assistance, the young, the elderly, adults with disabilities and many working families would lack stable access to affordable health care.