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Amida Care Marks 50th Anniversary of Medicaid and Medicare

July 20, 2015

Amida Care, New York State’s largest Medicaid special needs health plan joins all Americans in celebrating the first 50 years of Medicaid, a joint federal-state health insurance program for the poor that was signed into law in July 1965 as a crucial piece of President Lyndon Johnson’s “Great Society” legislation.

At the half-century mark, Medicaid, created in tandem with Medicare, benefits more than 70 million people nationwide, helping low-income seniors, children, and people with disabilities access essential health care. Medicaid coverage also enhances financial security by shielding families from medical debt and allowing employees to stay healthy for work.

Enacted on July 30, 1965, Medicaid initially evolved out of early federal welfare programs that underwent extensive reform under President Bill Clinton in the mid-1990s. More recently, millions more people have qualified for coverage in the 29 states that expanded Medicaid since passage of the Affordable Care Act in 2010.

In New York State alone, Medicaid currently provides quality health care for 5.8 million people – including half of all children. Medicaid’s milestone anniversary has particular meaning for the nearly 6,000 members of Amida Care, a nonprofit, community-based special needs health plan (SNP) that provides comprehensive health coverage and coordinated care to Medicaid and Medicare recipients living with multiple chronic conditions, such as HIV and behavioral disorders.

In fact, the flexibility of Medicaid’s design helped make it possible to develop and establish SNPs such as Amida Care, which have enabled fast, nimble responses to the AIDS epidemic. From our perspective, one measure of Medicaid’s effectiveness has been how it works with our Amida Care model of care to help members achieve notable health outcomes. Some 91 percent are engaged in regular care, and, in a study of about approximately half of our members, 73 percent maintain viral suppression – meaning that the amount of HIV in their blood is too low to be detected and therefore cannot be spread to others. Increasing viral suppression rates is a central goal of New York State’s Blueprint to End the AIDS Epidemic by 2020.

Just one example of someone whose life has changed for the better as a result of Medicaid and the SNP model of care is “Jimmy” Williams, who joined Amida Care in 2003 as one of our earliest members and credits the organization with saving his life. In 2011, Jimmy turned 65 and aged out of Medicaid. He is among several of our members who advocated for Amida Care’s expanding to include Medicare Advantage plans – which we began adding to our offerings in 2014

To find out more about our health plans and unique model of coordinated care, please visit www.amidacareny.org or contact us at 1-800-556-0689.