Will Medicaid Babies ‘Pay for Themselves’?

Source: Kaiser Family Foundation (Utah and New Mexico data for 2015; Colorado, Oklahoma, and Texas data for 2014, Arizona data for 2013)

Suggestion for a gutsy candidate looking to become the next governor: Pledge that by the end of your administration, fewer than 50 percent of the Land of Enchantment’s newborns will come into the world on the taxpayer’s dime.

The news that New Mexico has more of its babies born on Medicaid than all other states won’t surprise anyone who’s been paying attention. (Several of our neighbors, as the graph above shows, fare substantially better.) But it does illustrate the extend to which welfarism is a way of life in the Land of Enchantment. And with a dismal economy, now marked by the worst unemployment rate in the nation, Medicaid’s share of births is likely to grow.

Not too long ago, we were told by the usual suspects — Winthrop Quigley, Lee Reynis, New Mexico Voices for Children — that Medicaid expansion would “pay for itself.” Serious policy analysts knew that claim was nonsense, and our well-justified skepticism has been confirmed again and again.

But fiscal policy aside, the human toll of Medicaid expansion must not be overlooked. Brought into the world on welfare, it’s a near-certainty that many of the state’s Medicaid babies will grow up, and remain, trapped in the dungeon of dependency. Is there a courageous candidate willing to admit as much, publicly — and commit to taking the steps needed to turn the trend around?