‘Medicaid Is Not Too Expensive; People Are Too Poor,’ Democrat Congressman Says

By Dan Joseph | April 7, 2011 | 12:24 PM EDT

House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan, R.-Wis. (AP photo)

(CNSNews.com) - Rep. Ted Deutch (D-Fla.) said that Medicaid is not expensive but that the high cost of the program is due to the fact that too many Americans are “poor.”

In a Capitol Hill press conference on Tuesday – where Democrats criticized the budget proposal introduced by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) that they claim will adversely affect seniors – Deutch said that the cost of Medicaid to the U.S. taxpayer was not too high.

“Medicaid is not too expensive,” he said. “People are too poor.”

Despite his assertion that Medicaid was not too expensive, Deutch admitted that the program adversely affects government budgets throughout the country but implied that budget deficits are primarily the result of high levels of unemployment.

“It is true that Medicaid is straining the federal budget and state budget,” he said. “But treating a symptom of high unemployment will not cure the disease.”

Medicaid provides health insurance to low-income families and individuals, and is administered by the states. The federal government pays about 60 percent of Medicaid’s costs, according to the Peter G. Peterson Foundation.

Deutch further claimed that the Ryan budget, entitled The Path to Prosperity, will be a “path to the poorhouse” for American seniors, and defended the costs of Medicaid for enrollees of the program. 

“Compared to the rest of our health care system, Medicaid is cheap,” said Deutch. “In fact, Medicaid's costs per-individual are growing half as fast as Medicare and the private sector.”

Deutch did not address the cost of the program for the American taxpayer. While Medicaid was created in the 1960s at a cost of $400 million, its total costs in 2009 were $378.6 billion, according to Ryan’s report. Unless reformed, Medicaid’s costs are expected to balloon to $840 billion in 2019, eight years from now.