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What is Medicaid?

More than 50 million American children, pregnant women, mothers, disabled people and nursing home residents benefit from Medicaid, the state-federal insurance program for the poor. Created in 1965 along with Medicare as part of President Lyndon B. Johnson's "Great Society" initiative, Medicaid started out slowly. States were reluctant to sign up for what they knew could become a costly entitlement. But as the need mushroomed, so did Medicaid, and eventually every state participated, although none are required to. Today, more than half of Florida births are paid for by Medicaid, which funds 63 percent of nursing home care here. In Florida, Medicaid is not open to poor adults without children. The health care law would change that by opening Medicaid to anyone below 133 percent of the poverty level, which is $30,657 for a family of four.

Read more: Can Florida afford to say no to Medicaid expansion?


Medicaid illustration

Medicaid in Florida

Florida Gov. Rick Scott has declared that he will not expand the health insurance program for the poor in Florida, because he believes the state already spends too much on Medicaid. However, data show that Florida has one of the most frugal Medicaid programs in the country. Enrollment is up in these hard times, but per-person spending has actually declined to about half of what the average American uses annually in health care. Expansion advocates say that unless more people are covered, hospital emergency rooms will continue to tally larger bills for uncompensated care -- at the expense of private insurance holders and taxpayers. Here's a look at who gets Florida Medicaid, what it costs and who pays.


Medicaid graphic