Presidential hopeful Michele Bachmann (R-MN) is pushing back against charges of hypocrisy over Medicaid payments her husband collected for his therapy practice.
Bachmann’s husband, Marcus, runs a Christian counseling agency that has come under scrutiny in the past for its strong religious ties. The Los Angeles Times noted this week that it had received about $30,000 in public funds since 2007, partly federal, to help prepare staff to properly deal with mentally ill patients. On Tuesday, NBC revealed an additional $137,000 in Medicaid payments since 2005, which they said contradicted Rep. Bachmann’s claim that her husband only received a training grant that went to employees.
“Medicaid is a valuable form of insurance for many Americans and it would be discriminatory not to accept Medicaid as a form of payment,” a spokeswoman for Bachmann’s campaign said in a statement on Wednesday responding to questions about the payments. “As a state-sponsored counseling service, Bachmann and Associates has a responsibility to provide Medicaid and medical assistance, regardless of a patient’s financial situation.”
Critics say that the money undercuts Bachmann’s small-government rhetoric, since she’s frequently called for scaling back Medicare funds and criticized her state’s governor for swelling the “welfare rolls” by expanding the program.
“She’s giving hypocrisy a bad name,” Ron Pollock, executive director of health care advocacy group Families USA, told NBC. “It’s clear when it feathers her nest she’s happy for Medicaid expenditures. But people that really need it — folks with disabilities and seniors — she’s turning their backs on them.”
Medicaid payments are not the only public funds that have come under scrutiny in recent weeks. Bachmann also reported income in recent years from a family farm that she partly owns that received $260,000 in federal cash from 1995 to 2008. Bachmann opposes farm subsidies and claims she did not receive any money from the property.
Benjy Sarlin is a reporter for Talking Points Memo and co-writes the campaign blog, TPM2012. He previously reported for The Daily Beast/Newsweek as their Washington Correspondent and covered local politics for the New York Sun.