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Jenni Muns

Policy Associate, National Council for Behavioral Health

Impact of Medicaid Recognized on the 50th Anniversary of its Signing

July 23, 2015 | Medicaid | Comments
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Next week, the National Council for Mental Wellbeing, other national organizations, and a bipartisan group of national and state leaders will celebrate the 50th anniversary of Medicaid and the impact the program has had on countless Americans.

For the past half century, Medicaid has been an indispensable source of support for millions of people by filling in the gaps in health coverage that frequently occur, including gaps in mental health and substance use coverage. In fact, Medicaid is currently the largest source of funding for America’s public mental health system and projections suggest that in the coming years, Medicaid will make up a growing share of total national expenditures on substance use treatment.

As a result of Medicaid’s flexibility, states have used Medicaid waivers to expand access to home and community-based services that make independent living and community integration possible for people with disabilities and low-income elderly individuals. Since Medicaid was enacted, every state has been granted at least one waiver and most have received several.

Medicaid also helps the economy, especially in rural areas, by supporting vital health care jobs at hospitals, health centers, and other safety net providers, and by keeping workers healthy and on the job.

As we celebrate the countless contributions Medicaid has made to our nation’s health, let us not forget that this essential program continues to face threats, such as the proposal to convert it into a block grant. The National Council remains committed to working with other national organizations and leaders to preserving and strengthening this program for the next 50 years.