As Medicaid loses stigma, its fate rides on stormy election

WASHINGTON (AP) — Medicaid has long been the stepchild of government health care programs. Now it’s finally coming into its own, even as the 2016 presidential election could change its fate.

Under President Barack Obama, the federal-state program for low-income people has expanded to cover more than 70 million individuals — and it has shed much of the social stigma from its earlier years as a welfare benefit.

Two big industries — insurers and hospitals — have declared a stake in Medicaid’s future. Insurers are leading a new effort to educate lawmakers about how the program has moved closer to private coverage.

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton would keep expanding Medicaid.

Republican Donald Trump would reverse the Medicaid expansion in Obama’s health law and put a brake on the program’s future growth.