Medicaid, which became law in 1965 as part of the Social Security Act, is a social insurance program that pays for basic medical services for the nation's individuals and families who have the least income and resources. It is the biggest health safety net program in the United States, with more than 50 million people enrolled. It accounts for 16% of our nation's spending on health care, at an annual cost of over $300 billion. Unlike Medicare, which was enacted into law at the same time but is federally funded and administered, Medicaid is jointly financed by the federal and state governments. It is the third largest nondefense program in the federal budget after Medicare and Social Security, with 8% of federal outlays in 2004. ...

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