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Medicaid is a program designed by the US federal government to help ensure that the poor receive quality health care. The program provides medical care to the poor, to children, and to pregnant women living under the federal poverty level. It is funded jointly by the states and the federal government.
This program was established in 1965, at the same time as Medicare, under Title XIX of the Social Security Act. It was designed to assist low-income families in providing health care for themselves and their children, and it also covers certain individuals who fall below the federal poverty level. The program covers hospital and doctor's visits, prenatal care, emergency room visits, prescription medications, and other treatments.
Some of the people who are eligible for Medicaid include low-income children under age 6, low-income pregnant women, Supplemental Security Income recipients, adopted or foster children, specially protected groups, children under age 19 whose family income is below federal poverty level, some Medicare beneficiaries and other groups, as determined by each state. Most families who receive welfare probably have a social worker assigned to them, and this person will usually advise a family on its eligibility. Many healthcare providers will also be able to inform their patients about the program.
Medicaid is another of those thorny issues that the US Congress perpetually faces. The program is astronomically expensive, but if funding for it were cut, many people — including children — would be without basic medical care. It's a political tightrope.
While perhaps not as Byzantine in construction as Medicare, determining Medicaid eligibility is still tricky. Anyone who thinks that he or she may be eligible for coverage under the program can contact his or her local department of human resources or the Internet for more information. The official website includes a wealth of information, as well as a toll-free number. As is the case when dealing with most federal programs, people are well-advised to seek out professional assistance and get as much information as possible about the program in order to receive the maximum benefit.