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What is Medicaid?


Medicaid is an “entitlement program” created by the federal government, but administered by the state, to provide payment for medical services for low-income citizens. People qualify for Medicaid by meeting federal income and asset standards and by fitting into a specified eligibility. Under federal rules, DHSS has authority to limit services as long as the services provided are adequate in “amount, duration, and scope” to satisfy the recipient’s medical needs.

Medicaid began as a program to pay for health care for poor people who were unable to work. It covered the aged, the blind, the disabled, and single parent families. Over the years, Medicaid has expanded to cover more people. For instance, children and pregnant women may qualify under higher income limits and without asset limits. Families with unemployed parents may qualify, and families who lose regular Family Medicaid because a parent returns to work may continue to be covered for up to one year.

Woman with young boy on swing

There have also been changes in the eligibility rules for people who need the level of care provided in an institution, such as a nursing home. Now, most Alaskans who need — but cannot afford — this expensive care may qualify for Medicaid. In addition, recent changes within the Alaska Medicaid program give some people who need an institutional level of care the opportunity to stay at home to receive that care.

To apply for Medicaid services please contact the Division of Public Assistance. Applications, office locations, and useful information can be found on their web site.

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