HARRISBURG, Pa., July 30, 2015 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Department of Aging (PDA) Secretary Teresa Osborne joined Department of Human Services (DHS) Secretary Ted Dallas in observing the 50th anniversary of the federal Medicare and Medicaid programs, which provide critical health care services in Pennsylvania.
On July 30, 1965, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed into law legislation establishing the Medicare and Medicaid programs. For 50 years, these programs have protected the health and well-being of millions of Pennsylvania families, saved lives, and improved the economic security of our nation.
Currently in Pennsylvania, Medicare provides health care coverage to 2.4 million individuals and Medicaid provides coverage to 2.5 million individuals. Medicare provides critical health coverage for adults 65 and older, and Medicaid provides vital health care coverage to children, pregnant women, people with disabilities, and low-income adults.
"Before Medicare and Medicaid, one in three older adults lived in poverty," said Secretary Osborne. "In the five decades since, the basic health coverage provided by these programs has evolved into a choice of high-quality, affordable health care models including Medicare Parts A and B, Prescription Drug Coverage, Medicare Advantage and more. Today that original number is less than 10 percent."
Medicaid, a public insurance program, has transformed health care and last week, DHS announced 150,000 new Pennsylvanians have enrolled in its HealthChoices Medicaid program, since Governor Tom Wolf's Medicaid expansion plan launched on April 27, 2015. HealthChoices provides health care coverage to more Pennsylvanians than ever before, including many who previously didn't qualify for traditional Medicaid plans.
"Medicaid is a vitval safety net to those in need," said DHS Secretary Ted Dallas. "Over 2.5 million Pennsylvanians – over 1 out of every 6 people in the commonwealth – get their health care from Medicaid. It is a lifeline for these individuals who would otherwise lack health care coverage."
The commonwealth also helps older adults and their caregivers understand their coverage options. Through the statewide APPRISE program, PDA offers nearly 700 trained volunteers to provide free, objective Medicare and health insurance counseling throughout the year. Pennsylvanians wishing to set up an APPRISE appointment or seeking more information can visit www.aging.pa.gov/insurance or call the toll-free helpline at 800-783-7067.
MEDIA CONTACT: Kirstin Snow, Aging, 717-787-3368
Kait Gillis, DHS, 717-425-7606
SOURCE Pennsylvania Department of Aging; Pennsylvania Department of Human Services