GOPer Ernst: People On Medicaid Had No ‘Personal Responsibility’


Iowa state Sen. Joni Ernst, the Republican nominee for U.S. Senate in the state, seems to have argued that a chunk of Medicaid recipients do not have any “personal responsibility for their health.”

The argument, made by Ernst in April, was flagged by The Plum Line’s Greg Sargent on Friday. It was part of Ernst laying out her opposition to Iowa expanding Medicaid. Here’s the key passage:

Participation in the broken Medicaid program has doubled over the past decade. Iowa has nearly 500,000 Medicaid enrollees. If the program is expanded, it is estimated the Medicaid population will grow by an additional 110,000 to 181,000 recipients who have no personal responsibility for their health and no accountability for the care provided.

Ernst’s campaign told Sargent that she was referring to “bureaucrats overseeing the program.” Here’s the response from Ernst spokeswoman Gretchen Hamel:

Her concern was that bureaucrats overseeing the program would have “no personal responsibility or accountability” for the care being delivered. She was referring to bureaucrats not those receiving care. On the other hand, through his vote for Obamacare, Bruce Braley is the only candidate running who has voted and successfully cut over $500 billion from Medicare.

Iowa Democrats called for Ernst to apologize.

“Joni Ernst owes an apology to the more than 560,000 Iowans who rely on Medicaid, and her extreme and misguided Tea Party belief that hard working Iowans have no personal responsibility shows how out of step she is with Iowa families,” Iowa Democratic Party Communications Director Christina Freundlich said in a statement on Friday.

This newly surfaced comment followed a number of recently unearthed eyebrow raising statements from Ernst. Ernst seemed to have dabbled a bit with conspiracy theories with the particular fringe theory of the United Nations’ Agenda 21, a favorite outlandish argument of Glenn Beck.

TPM also recently flagged that Ernst suggested that if extra U.S. troops had stayed in Iraq for a longer period of time, the U.S. wouldn’t have recently conducted airstrikes on Islamic militants there (an argument that President Barack Obama has strongly rebutted).

The TPM Polltracker average finds the Iowa Senate race essentially tied between Ernst and Rep. Bruce Braley (D-IA).

This post was updated.