Authorized in 1965, Medicaid is a joint federal-state program that provides the nation’s low-income population with basic health and long-term care coverage. Medicaid is the largest health care program in the United States and covers more than 50 million people. Under Medicaid states receive federal matching funds to provide health care for low-income individuals. Medicaid coverage is critical to the health care of millions of women. More than 16 million women receive their basic health and long-term coverage through Medicaid. In 2003, Medicaid covered one in ten women and one in five low-income women. In 2003, 11.5% of women of reproductive age were covered by Medicaid.
Currently, all state Medicaid programs must cover pregnant women who meet the federal income requirements. Many states have elected to cover women with incomes that are higher than the federal requirements. However, this coverage is not without limits, and abortion services are among the provisions that are most stringently regulated.
Medicaid is the largest form of aid to the states from the federal government, comprising 43% of all federal grants. As the national economy has worsened, state tax revenue has lessened and health care costs have continued to rise. This resulted in more people eligible for Medicaid. This has placed pressure on states to control Medicaid costs, typically the second largest budget expenditure. The federal government is also looking at scaling back Medicaid funding and has proposed to reduce Medicaid spending by $35 billion over the next ten years. These cuts will especially impact women.