As we mark 50 years of Medicaid and Medicare, we at America’s Essential Hospitals are reflecting on the experiences of others within and beyond the four walls of essential hospitals.

We all have someone to take care of – be it ourselves, our loved ones, or, for some, our patients. Face to face with people living this caregiver role, my colleague Sandy Laycox and I discovered the many points where Medicaid and Medicare intersect with lives as more than just insurers. These programs impact access, quality, and cost for the health care system. They affect how we live, how we take care of ourselves, and how we care for others.


Comprehensive, Coordinated Care with the Walls Down

The second edition of Walls Down – our original, award-winning online magazine – focuses on one aspect of essential hospitals (our members): the comprehensive, coordinated care they provide to the most vulnerable, including the disabled, the home-bound, the chronically ill.

We chose to focus on care coordination for chronic conditions because this issue directly demonstrates the evolving relationship between the Medicare and Medicaid programs, essential hospitals, and all of us.

Services were not always coordinated, and neither was coverage. For those people who are covered both under Medicare (for their age or disability) and Medicaid (for their income), the administration of both care and payment is particularly challenging. Yet, essential hospitals innovate. They address these challenges head on to better support the health of their communities.

Our care quality has improved in part because doctors are being paid differently for these patients. Our lives are longer in part because health professionals are better communicating with each other. Our energy is renewed in part because we now have partners empowering us to take an active role in our own health care.

Though complicated, these programs have actually shaped what we now know as the U.S. health care system. And so we release this edition on the 50th anniversary of the Medicare and Medicaid programs in hopes of drawing these connections for all of us.


Essential People, Essential Communities, Essential Hospitals

Take the first steps toward better health through the experience of an advocate, a social worker, an inner-city teenager, a former NBA player, a man down on his luck.

This edition features a collection of stories about home health care, a short documentary that demonstrates how feet can be the gateway to coordinated health care, an interactive “mindmap” of the past 50 years for Medicaid and Medicare, and more.

Sandy and I invite you to explore these stories with your walls down. Take in the emotion and the reality, the human and the technical, the past and the present. Take in the connections between us all – from essential people to essential communities to essential hospitals.

We are eager to know what you think of Walls Down! Please comment below or email