Under the terms of the 2010 Affordable Care Act, Medicaid is preparing to expand coverage to include an additional 16 million Americans. Under the previous guidelines, Medicaid patients typically included only low income parents, the elderly and people with disabilities. However, the new terms provide for coverage for low income individuals and households.
Under the law, individuals who have a yearly income of about $15,000 will be eligible for Medicaid coverage. Families of four with an income of about $30,000 will also be eligible, according to the Department of Health and Human Services. The expanded coverage will take effect in January of 2014.
However, there is currently a challenge to the constitutionality of the expansion provisions that is set to be heard by the Supreme Court of the United States. The court will hear oral arguments on the challenge and is expected to issue a ruling no later than July of 2012. If the court approves the provisions of the law of the expansion will take effect as planned.
Some physician groups have expressed concerns that the sudden increase in the number of Medicaid patients may negatively affect patient care. Some Medicaid patients already face difficulty when they need a specialist, such as a pediatrician, and many physicians say that current Medicaid reimbursement rates do not encourage new physicians to take on Medicaid patients.
However, despite the potential problems with expanded coverage five states and the District of Columbia have already adopted the expanded coverage requirements. Illinois is also planning on expanding its Medicaid coverage before the 2014 deadline.