The Affordable Care Act’s chief aim is to extend coverage to people without health insurance. One of the 2010 law’s primary means to achieve that goal is expanding Medicaid eligibility to more people near the poverty level. But a crucial court ruling in 2012 granted states the power to reject the Medicaid expansion. As a consequence, a two-tiered health care system is taking deeper root in America. In mainly Republican-led, Southern states, the uninsured rate remains disproportionately high. In sharp contrast, the ranks of the uninsured are falling sharply in states — most run by Democrats — that expanded Medicaid.
This year is the golden anniversary of Medicare, the U.S. government's sprawling health care initiative, which President Lyndon Johnson signed into law in 1965. Today, Medicare covers more than 55 million people, including 9 million beneficiaries who are under age 65 and permanently disabled. Here are the basics on this popular program: If you are an American citizen or a legal resident in the United States for at least five years, you are eligible for Medicare when you or your spouse turn 65 and have paid a payroll tax for at least 10 years. You must officially enroll in the program, unless you already receive Social Security, in which case you are automatically enrolled.
New York has added 1.1 million people to Medicaid since the state health exchange opened last year in the national effort to connect the uninsured with low-cost coverage. More than 6.2 million New Yorkers are now enrolled, almost one-third of its 19 million people. The exchange, which was designed to connect uninsured New Yorkers with commercial policies, had the effect of bringing a larger number of low-income residents to the government-funded program.