Medicaid and Faith Organizations: Participation and Potential

Medicaid and Faith Organizations: Participation and Potential

Bush Administration proposals to allow participation by faith-based organizations in federally funded social service programs have touched off considerable controversy. To date, however, there has been little public discussion and no published literature about the involvement of these organizations in the largest intergovernmental social service program the American federal system operates: Medicaid. This program accounted for over $260 billion in federal, state and local spending in FY 2003 for a wide range of services to over 40 million enrollees. The program supports health care, long term care, mental health, prescription drugs, and a variety of other residential and non-residential services for a wide range of client groups ranging from low income women and children to the low income elderly and those who are disabled. 

There are several reasons for interest in Medicaid as a potential funding source for religious organizations. First, it is large and growing relatively rapidly--roughly 45 percent since 1999--while funding for other programs advanced as sources of support for these organizations are growing at much slower rates and Medicaid has been relatively unaffected by recent state budget difficulties, while funding for other social programs has been reduced or grown only slowly, if at all. Second, Medicaid is a major source of financial support for mental health and substance abuse programs, service areas where spirituality has received attention as a therapeutic method. While systematic evidence is scarce, one estimate placed annual Medicaid spending for mental health and substance abuse in 1997 at roughly $29 billion; more than 10 times the amount spent annually under the substance abuse and mental health block grant which has been included in the Administration's faith based initiative. 

Spotlight on Mental Health

Composite image of modern city network communication concept

Learn the Basics of Broadband from Our Limited Series

Sign up for our four-week email course on Broadband Basics

Quick View

How does broadband internet reach our homes, phones, and tablets? What kind of infrastructure connects us all together? What are the major barriers to broadband access for American communities?

Pills illustration
Pills illustration

What Is Antibiotic Resistance—and How Can We Fight It?

Sign up for our four-week email series The Race Against Resistance.

Quick View

Antibiotic-resistant bacteria, also known as “superbugs,” are a major threat to modern medicine. But how does resistance work, and what can we do to slow the spread? Read personal stories, expert accounts, and more for the answers to those questions in our four-week email series: Slowing Superbugs.

Explore Pew’s new and improved
Fiscal 50 interactive

Your state's stats are more accessible than ever with our new and improved Fiscal 50 interactive:

  • Maps, trends, and customizable charts
  • 50-state rankings
  • Analysis of what it all means
  • Shareable graphics and downloadable data
  • Proven fiscal policy strategies


Welcome to the new Fiscal 50

Key changes include:

  • State pages that help you keep track of trends in your home state and provide national and regional context.
  • Interactive indicator pages with highly customizable and shareable data visualizations.
  • A Budget Threads feature that offers Pew’s read on the latest state fiscal news.

Learn more about the new and improved Fiscal 50.