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  • Margarete Ralston

Did You Know? - Originally, Medicare and Medicaid were Administered by Different Agencies

It's difficult to believe, but Medicare and Medicaid are almost 60 years old! Originally, Medicare and Medicaid were administered by different agencies. Medicare was created as part of the Social Security Amendments of 1965, which were signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson. The program was administered by the Social Security Administration (SSA), which also oversaw the Social Security program.


Medicaid, on the other hand, was created as part of the same legislation, but it was administered by a different agency - the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare (HEW). At the time, HEW was a cabinet-level department responsible for overseeing a wide range of health, education, and welfare programs.


The decision to administer Medicare and Medicaid separately was largely driven by political considerations. Medicare was seen as a continuation of the existing Social Security program, and it made sense for it to be administered by the SSA. Medicaid, on the other hand, was a new program aimed at providing health coverage to low-income individuals and families, and it was seen as a better fit for HEW.


Over time, the administration of Medicare and Medicaid evolved. In 1977, HEW was split into two separate departments - the Department of Education and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Today, Medicare is administered by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), which is part of HHS. Medicaid is also administered by CMS, but it is run at the state level with federal oversight. Some states call Medicaid by their own name, like California does with MediCal.

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