Medicare & Medicaid celebrate an anniversary

On July 30, 1965, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed Medicare and Medicaid into law as amendments to the Social Security Act of 1935. The two programs provide health insurance for the elderly and certain low-income individuals, respectively.

Here is a quick snapshot of Maine’s involvement with the two programs on the occasion of their 48th birthday.

276,467 — The number of Medicare beneficiaries in Maine in 2012, according to data from the Kaiser Family Foundation. Nationally, Medicare, which is funded entirely by the federal government, covers 39 million people age 65 and older and another 8 million younger adults with permanent disabilities, according to the foundation.

410,743 — The number of Medicaid enrollees in Maine in fiscal year 2010, according to data from the Kaiser Family Foundation.

Medicaid, known in Maine as MaineCare, is funded by both the federal and state governments. It’s currently the largest health insurance program in the country, covering 62 million Americans.

The Affordable Care Act, the Obama administration’s health care reform law, includes an expansion of Medicaid beginning next year. States are not required to accept the federal government’s expansion plans, however, and Gov. Paul LePage has so far put the kibosh on expanding the state’s Medicaid program.

The expansion of this program, and Medicare, will continue to be in the news for many, many years to come. To inform yourself, the Kaiser Family Foundation has a ton of information about both programs. To start, here are primers on Medicaid and Medicare.

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Whit Richardson

About Whit Richardson

Whit Richardson is Business Editor at the Bangor Daily News. He blogs about Maine business, entrepreneurs and the economy.