As Medicare and Medicaid turn 54, these two programs are more important than ever for the health and well-being of millions of Americans. This month, I’m grateful to share a number of new stories and photos on our website from people around the country illustrating just how critical these public programs are to all of us. Courtesy of our partners Alabama Arise, Colorado Consumer Health Initiative and Idaho Voices for Children, you’ll meet a number of people who share how important it is to have health care that meets their unique needs and the needs of their families. Please take a minute to view our story gallery here. And if you know an amazing consumer champion who is working to improve their health and the health of their communities, please remember to nominate them for our Speak Up for Better Health award! Nominations are due Sept. 6.

In their second half-century, Medicare and Medicaid continue to evolve and change. Center Strategic Policy Manager Danielle Garrett and Research Director Marc Cohen recently participated in a collaborative effort to define how Medicare health plans should deliver services that go beyond traditional health care services in order to address beneficiaries’ social needs and other factors that affect their health, while preserving important beneficiary protections. Learn more about this work here.

Even as Medicare and Medicaid continue their vital roles in providing care to low-income people and families, people with disabilities and older adults, we are constantly reminded of the continued threats to these programs. This month, we’re honored to feature an Eldercare Voices column from Katie Smith Sloan, President and CEO of LeadingAge, a national organization of over 6,000 members and partners, including not-for profit organizations, representing the entire field of aging services. This column discusses recently proposed changes to how the federal government would calculate the poverty threshold, making it harder for older adults to qualify for programs like Medicaid and, over time, depriving millions of people of services they need. This is a topic that Community Catalyst is continuing to highlight, and you can read more about the threat here.

And finally, I want to acknowledge the horror and heartbreak of the shootings in El Paso and Dayton over the weekend, and in Gilroy last month. In this time of sorrow, anger, fear and loss, I hope we will continue to be a supportive and caring community for each other, and, in the words of UnidosUS President Janice Murguia, “to rise above fear, division and hate and restore respect, dignity and common humanity for all.”