Would The Media Prefer Mr. Bachmann's Clinic Turn Away Poor Medicaid Patients?

NBC News's Michael Isikoff believes it's hypocritical of presidential candidate Michele Bachmann to criticize Medicaid because her husband's clinic receives money from this government healthcare program for the poor.

As he wrote at MSNBC.com Tuesday evening:

While Rep. Michelle Bachmann, R-Minn., has forcefully denounced the Medicaid program for swelling the "welfare rolls," the mental health clinic run by her husband has been collecting annual Medicaid payments totaling over $137,000 for the treatment of patients since 2005, according to new figures obtained by NBC News. [...]

The issue of her receipt of government aid has gotten attention because Bachmann, a Tea Party favorite, has been a fierce critic of federal spending programs and has called for drastic cutbacks. This has especially been the case on health care, including the expansions of Medicaid called for under the new health care law.

When Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton signed an executive order earlier this year expanding the state's Medicaid program for more than 95,000 state residents, Bachmann was joined [sic] state Republican lawmakers in denouncing the move.

"Right now, Governor Dayton is wanting to commit Minnesota taxpayers to add even more welfare recipients on the welfare rolls at a very great cost," Bachmann said at a news conference in St. Paul in January.

"She's giving hypocrisy a bad name," said Ron Pollock, executive director of Families USA, a consumer health care advocacy group, when asked about the Medicaid payments to Bachmann & Associates. "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."

Optometrist Jason Whitman noted Wednesday, "Perhaps the author of this article, Michael Isikoff, has never actually operated a medical clinic before, but most of us who practice medicine accept payments from government health insurance programs such as Medicaid and Medicare because so many of our patients are on them."


As for Bachmann feathering her nest, payments for most medical services by Medicaid are far less than from private insurers and often below the actual cost for the service.

As the American Hospital Association reported last December, "[H]ospitals received payment of only 89 cents for every dollar spent by hospitals caring for Medicaid patients in 2009."

As such, doctors that accept Medicaid patients are typically losing money for the services they provide and should therefore be depicted as benevolent rather than greedy.

Not surprising, Bachmann's detractors in the media are choosing to ignore this inconvenient truth.

But there's another side of this that folks like Isikoff are being dishonest about. Since Medicaid is a healthcare plan for the poor, if clinics like Mr. Bachmann's didn't take such patients, they'd be turning away the neediest in our country.

Just imagine the kind of negative press Mrs. Bachmann would be getting if that were the case.

Unfortunately, the Bachmann's are in a lose-lose situation as far as the media are concerned. If he takes such patients, she's a hypocrite. If he doesn't, she's a heartless so-and-so.

Which leads me to ask Isikoff and all the other Bachmann-haters in the press the following question: Which would you prefer - conservative doctors turn away Medicaid patients because they don't believe in the program or accept them despite their political views with a government payment that doesn't cover their costs?

Let's get this out in the open now so that every conservative doctor in the country knows what the media deems acceptable concerning this matter.

2012 Presidential NBC Michael Isikoff Michele Bachmann
Noel Sheppard's picture

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