• Article
  • July 20, 2015

50 Years of Medicaid: Major Milestones

Here's a look back at the last 50 years of Medicaid's history.

President Lyndon Johnson signs Medicare into law. 

Congress establishes the Early and Periodic Screening, Diagnostic and Treatment (EPSDT) benefit to provide health care services for children who are enrolled in Medicaid and ensure they receive preventive, dental, mental health and developmental and specialty services.

Congress creates the Supplemental Security Income program and linked it with Medicaid eligibility, providing stipends to low-income people who are either age 65 or older, blind or disabled.

Congress requires states to pay hospitals treating a disproportionate share of low-income patients’ additional payments.

All 50 states participate in Medicaid 

President Ronald Reagan creates the Katie Beckett Waiver, allowing children under age 19 who have long-term disabilities or complex medical needs to become eligible for Medicaid coverage. It also enables children to be cared for at home instead of in an institution.

Congress requites states to provide coverage for children ages 6 through 18 whose families are at or below 100 percent of federal poverty level. 

Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) provides low-cost health coverage to kids in families that earn too much money to qualify for Medicaid, like the Vidal family (top right). In some states, CHIP covers parents and pregnant women. Each state offers CHIP coverage and works closely with its state Medicaid program.

Congress reauthorizes CHIP and establishes new enrollment and outreach efforts.

The Affordable Care Act allows states to expand Medicaid coverage to non-elderly adults up to 133 percent of federal poverty level and create opportunities for delivery system innovation.

Congress passes the CHIP Reauthorization Act, which extends the program for two years.