Sen. Joni Ernst: 42% of Babies Born on Medicaid in 2020 ‘Is Not a Good Thing’

Emily Robertson | February 17, 2022 | 12:44pm EST
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Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa)    (Getty Images)
Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) (Getty Images)

( -- When asked if it was a good thing that 42% of the babies born in America in 2020 were born on Medicaid, Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) said, “It is not a good thing.”

At the Capitol on Wednesday, asked Sen. Ernst, “According to the CDC, 42% of the babies born in America in 2020 were born on Medicaid. Is that a good thing?”

The senator said, “It is not a good thing and we just need our families to be healthy and productive, and it means encouraging more young people to get engaged in the work force and then providing better opportunities for their children.” followed-up with the question, “40.5% of the babies were born to unmarried mothers. Do you think that’s related to the high number born on Medicaid?”

“I do, because we find that when you have two-parent households oftentimes those families will do much better and, you know, also help with the costs and challenges of raising those children,” Sen. Ernst said.

Last week, the CDC released new data on births in 2020 listing the statistics of babies born on Medicaid, born to married and unmarried mothers, the race of the mothers, as well as other relevant information.

(Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Women who gave birth were either on Medicaid or used private insurance as the main source of paying for the delivery. While births on private insurance increased from 50.2% the year before to 50.6%, the percentage of Medicaid-covered births decreased from 42.1% to 42.0%.

The percentage of babies who were born to unmarried women overall in 2020 increased 1% from the year prior to 40.5%. 

The CDC created tables that list the births of babies to unmarried mothers beginning in the 1940’s. The percentage at that time for all races was only 3.8% of unmarried women who gave birth. In 1999 it hit 33%.

“Authorized by Title XIX of the Social Security Act, Medicaid was signed into law in 1965 alongside Medicare. All states, the District of Columbia, and the U.S. territories have Medicaid programs designed to provide health coverage for low-income people,” the website says. “Although the Federal government establishes certain parameters for all states to follow, each state administers their Medicaid program differently, resulting in variations in Medicaid coverage across the country.”

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