Discussion Paper Icon

The Legacy of the War on Poverty’s Health Programs for Non-Elderly Adults and Children

Two of the major gaps between those living in poverty and those with higher incomes are gaps in access to health care and gaps in health. These disparities were considerably worse prior to the introduction of the Medicaid program, which was signed into law in 1965. In this paper I will review existing gaps in health care usage and, to the extent possible, document gaps in health, comparing those with incomes below the poverty line to those above it. The paper includes a systematic review of programs directed at helping those living in low-income families obtain health care from the demand and supply perspectives, beginning with the period just before the War on Poverty and at selected intervals after the initiation of the War on Poverty in January 1964. I will review Medicaid’s history, including the number of persons who use the program, and discuss its strengths and weaknesses both historically and contemporaneously. I will explore major components of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), which appear to be built upon the successful components of the Medicaid and Community Health Center programs of the War on Poverty.


Health, Health Care, Inequality & Mobility, Inequality & Mobility General