WASHINGTON (AP) — Medicaid, often stigmatized among government health care programs, is finally coming into its own.
The federal-state program for low-income people has been scarcely debated in the turbulent presidential election, but it faces real consequences depending on who wins the White House in the Nov. 8 vote.
Under President Barack Obama, Medicaid has expanded to cover more than 70 million people and shed much of the social disapproval from its earlier years as a welfare program. Two big industries — insurers and hospitals — have a declared stake in the future of the program, which costs more than $530 billion a year. Insurers are leading a new “Modern Medicaid Alliance” to educate lawmakers about how the program has moved closer to private coverage.
Medicaid has become “one of the primary mainstream health care programs,” says former Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., who for decades worked to expand benefits and coverage.
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