Wisconsin taxpayers pay for 45% of births in state

Kudos to Rep. Michelle Litjens for pointing this out this truth.

The figures show that 71,977 babies were born in Wisconsin in 2008 — and that Medicaid, the state-federal program that pays medical bills for low-income individuals and families, paid for the care provided in 32,792 of the births. That’s 45.6 percent, which confirms Litjens’ first claim.

The 45.6 percent figure — it was 44 percent in ‘07, 43 percent in ‘06 and 42 percent in ‘05 — put Wisconsin on the higher end of Medicaid-financed births nationally in 2008. That’s according to data from the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonpartisan group that studies health care policy.

The rate ranged from 8 percent in New Jersey to 70 percent in Louisiana, although figures were not available for 15 states.

As for Litjens’ second claim, that taxpayers paid for 60 percent of the births in Milwaukee, she didn’t specify whether she meant Milwaukee County or the City of Milwaukee. But either way, her claim is accurate.

State figures show there were 15,353 births in the county in 2008, and that Medicaid paid for the care of 9,170 of them, or 59.7 percent. In the city, Medicaid paid for 72.5 percent of the 11,311 births.

But Milwaukee didn’t have the highest percentage of births paid by Medicaid.

Over 85 percent of the 130 births in Menominee County were paid for by Medicaid, the highest percentage in Wisconsin.

In Ozaukee County, Medicaid paid for 19 percent of the 822 births, the lowest rate.

In Litjens’ home county, Winnebago, Medicaid paid for nearly 39 percent of the 1,955 births.

Medicaid, by the way, pays for more than just labor and delivery. It also finances prenatal visits and postpartum care.

Could it be that the size of the government safety net known as Medicaid is too big?

An October 2010 Milwaukee Journal Sentinel story, which reported that Medicaid paid for 45 percent of all baby deliveries in Wisconsin in 2008, also reported that at that time:

More than 1.1 million people in Wisconsin depended on Medicaid health programs.

Medicaid provided health care for one in five Wisconsin residents.

Medicaid health programs had expanded faster in Wisconsin over the previous nine years than in any state except Arizona.

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