Medicaid is a health insurance program for low-income and medically-needy individuals.  First enacted in 1965, the program is jointly funded by both the federal and state governments.  Although states are not required to adopt Medicaid, all states, and the District of Columbia, have had some form of Medicaid program for many years.

Each state has the authority to determine eligibility for its program, though the federal government mandates that each program must cover certain populations.  Medicaid must cover, among other groups, low income families, children, the aged (over 65), the blind and otherwise disabled, and other qualifying low-income Americans.  Only legal U.S. residents are eligible for Medicaid.

Medi-Cal is the name of California’s Medicaid program. It covers low-income adults, families with children, seniors (over 65), the disabled, children in foster care and former foster care children up to age 26, and pregnant women.  About one-third of Californians are covered under Medi-Cal.

The Affordable Care Act (“ACA”) gave states the option to expand Medicaid coverage to non-disabled individuals with incomes below 133% of the Federal Poverty Level.  The Affordable Care Act provided enhanced matching funds to states that chose to expand Medicaid, in order to assist and encourage the expansion.  Currently, 32 states and the District of Columbia have expanded Medicaid under the ACA.

The GOP’s recent legislative health reform attempt, the American Health Care Act (AHCA), would have eliminated the Medicaid expansion provisions of the ACA, and altered the pre-ACA structure of the program as well.