For the first fifty years of its existence, Medicaid suffered from a serious defect-while it was adopted to meet the health care needs of the poor, it was designed only to meet the needs of the so-called "deserving" poor. Rather than providing Medicaid benefits to all persons who fell below the federal poverty level of income (or met some other measure of indigence), Congress limited eligibility to those categories of the poor that were viewed as especially deserving of assistance. These categories included children, pregnant women, single caretakers of children, and disabled persons.
"Medicaid at 50: No Longer Limited to the "Deserving" Poor?,"
Yale Journal of Health Policy, Law, and Ethics:
1, Article 10.
Available at: http://digitalcommons.law.yale.edu/yjhple/vol15/iss1/10