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HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra, CMS Administrator Chiquita Brooks-LaSure on the 56th Anniversary of Medicare and Medicaid

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary, Xavier Becerra, and Centers for Medicare & Medicaid (CMS) Administrator, Chiquita Brooks-LaSure, released the following statements to mark the 56th anniversary of Medicare and Medicaid on July 30, 2021:

“For decades, Medicare and Medicaid have been a lifeline and a steady foundation for our seniors, children, women, families, people with disabilities, and at every stage in life,” said HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra. “Nearly 140 million Americans have health insurance coverage through either Medicare or Medicaid. As we mark their 56th anniversary, the Biden-Harris Administration is proud to celebrate, strengthen, and expand these programs which have improved the health and wellbeing of the American people. President Biden’s Build Back Better agenda will extend Medicaid’s coverage to those who need it most and give older Americans additional benefits they critically need. Throughout my career, I’ve championed these vital programs for America’s families and seniors, and as HHS Secretary, I will work with President Biden to build upon Medicare and Medicaid for generations to come.”

“For 56 years, Medicare and Medicaid have made health coverage a reality for individuals and families when they have needed it,” said CMS Administrator Chiquita Brooks-LaSure. “When President Lyndon Johnson called on Congress to spare the Nation’s seniors of ‘the darkness of sickness without hope,’ nearly half of seniors were uninsured, most hospitals around the country were segregated, and health coverage was out of reach for many. Medicare and Medicaid were critical steps forward in the fight for civil rights that brought the peace of mind that health coverage provides to many, made health care access more equitable by requiring the integration of hospitals, and improved health outcomes across the country. Today, nearly 140 million Americans have coverage thanks to Medicare and Medicaid.  The health needs of those who rely on these vital CMS programs are always evolving, and because of that, the Biden-Harris Administration will continue to work to expand and strengthen Medicare and Medicaid so they remain quality and reliable health programs.  Ensuring these programs also work to advance health equity nationwide is also a top priority for CMS. Access to health coverage is a right and no one should be left out, left behind, or left on the sidelines.”



Nearly 140 million Americans (74M for Medicaid, 63M for Medicare) benefit today from Medicaid and Medicare. An additional 4 million adults could benefit if the remaining 12 states expanded Medicaid through the Affordable Care Act.


Medicaid is the largest public health insurance program, covering more than 22 percent of the total U.S. population. Medicaid enrollment increased by 9.6 million or 15 percent from February 2020 (64.6 million) before the COVID-19 pandemic to February 2021 (74.2 million).

  • A total of 14.9 million newly eligible Medicaid beneficiaries in December 2020 enrolled under the Affordable Care Act’s Medicaid expansion program.
  • Millions of pregnant women and families rely on Medicaid for coverage beforehand, during and post-pregnancy. The program paid for 42.1% of all births (total of 3,747,540) in 2019.
  • The program is also the single largest payer for mental health services in the United States and is increasingly playing a larger role in the reimbursement of substance use disorder services.
  • More than 10 million Americans qualify for Medicaid based on a disability. People under age 65 who qualify for Medicaid on the basis of a disability include adults and children with disabilities that they have had since birth and others who have disabling conditions acquired through illness, injury or trauma.
  • Medicaid is the primary payer for nursing home care for people who need long-term care services across the nation, and the primary payer of home and community-based services (HCBS) which allow people with disabilities to live full lives in their community.
  • Over 4.7 million individuals receive HCBS through Medicaid.


In 2019, Medicare covered 61.2 million people: 52.6 million aged 65 and older, and 8.7 million disabled.

  • About 37 percent of these beneficiaries have chosen to enroll in Part C private health plans that contract with Medicare to provide Part A and Part B health services.
  • Seniors are more likely to have health insurance coverage than any other age group.
  • In 2019, 0.9 percent of people 65 and older were uninsured, compared with 5.1 percent among children (ages 0 to 17) and 14.7 percent among nonelderly adults (ages 18 to 64).
  • Medicare Part D provides affordable prescription drug coverage to over 47.2 Americans. The Affordable Care Act eliminated the Coverage Gap (“the donut hole”) in the original Part D benefit, reducing patient cost-sharing responsibility for these drugs from 100% to 25%.
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