Video: Bachmann’s husband took Medicaid funds

By Michael Isikoff National investigative correspondent
NBC News
updated 6/28/2011 7:46:46 PM ET 2011-06-28T23:46:46

While Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., has forcefully denounced the Medicaid program for swelling the "welfare rolls," the mental health clinic run by her husband has been collecting annual Medicaid payments totaling over $137,000 for the treatment of patients since 2005, according to new figures obtained by NBC News.

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The previously unreported payments are on top of the $24,000 in federal and state funds that Bachmann & Associates, the clinic founded by Marcus Bachmann, a clinical therapist, received in recent years under a state grant to train its employees, state records show. The figures were provided to NBC News in response to a Freedom of Information request.

The clinic, based in Lake Elmo, Minn., describes itself on its website as offering "quality Christian counseling" for a large number of mental health problems ranging from "anger management" to addictions and eating disorders.

The $161,000 in payments from the Minnesota Department of Human Services to her husband's clinic appear to contradict some of Michelle Bachmann's public accounts this week when she was first asked about the extent to which her family has benefited from government aid. Contacted this afternoon, Alice Stewart, a spokeswoman for Bachmann, said the congresswoman was doing campaign events and was not immediately available for comment.

Questions about the Bachmann family's receipt of government funds arose this week after a Los Angeles Times story reported that a family farm in which Michelle Bachmann is a partner had received nearly $260,000 in federal farm subsidies.

Read more reporting by Michael Isikoff in 'The Isikoff Files'

When asked by anchor Chris Wallace on "Fox News Sunday" about the story's assertion that her husband's counseling clinic had also gotten federal and state funds, Bachmann replied that it was "one-time training money that came from the federal government. And it certainly didn't help our clinic."

At another point, she said, "My husband and I did not get the money," adding that it was "mental health training money that went to the employees."

But state records show that Bachmann & Associates has been collecting payments under the Minnesota's Medicaid program every year for the past six years. Karen Smigielski, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Human Services, said the state's Medicaid program is funded "about 50-50" with federal and state monies. The funds to Bachmann & Associates are for the treatment of low-income mentally ill patients and are based on a "fee for service" basis, meaning the clinic was reimbursed by Medicaid for the services it provided.

Smigielski added that these were not the only government funds that Bachmann & Associates has received. The clinic also participates in managed-care plans that are reimbursed under a separate state-funded Minnesota Health Care program. But the state does not have any records of payment information to the individual clinics that participate. (During her Fox News appearance, Bachmann was not asked about Medicaid payments, and she made no mention of them.)

Another state official, Patrice Vick, communications manager for the Human Services Department, said she was puzzled by Michelle Bachmann's assertion on the broadcast that the funds under the state grant went to employees. While the grant was to train employees to help them treat chemical dependency, the money did not go directly to those being trained, she said. "It went to the clinic," Vick said.

"The contract was with the clinic," Vick added later. But she  had no immediate information about whether the clinic passed it along directly to the employees being trained or used it to cover its costs of training.

Image: Rep. Michelle Bachmann (R-MN) and her husband Marcus Bachmann
Steve Pope  /  Getty Images
Rep. Michele Bachmann and her husband, Marcus, recite the Pledge of Alligence, before she announced her presidential candidacy Monday in Waterloo, Iowa.

The issue of her receipt of government aid has gotten attention because Bachmann, a Tea Party favorite, has been a fierce critic of federal spending programs and has called for drastic cutbacks. This has especially been the case on health care, including the expansions of Medicaid called for under the new health care law.

When Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton signed an executive order earlier this year expanding the state's Medicaid program for more than 95,000 state residents, Bachmann was joined state Republican lawmakers in denouncing the move.

"Right now, Governor Dayton is wanting to commit Minnesota taxpayers to add even more welfare recipients on the welfare rolls at a very great cost," Bachmann said at a news conference in St. Paul in January.

"She's giving hypocrisy a bad name," said Ron Pollock, executive director of Families USA, a consumer health care advocacy group, when asked about the Medicaid payments to Bachmann & Associates. "It's clear when it feathers her nest she's happy for Medicaid expenditures. But people that really need it — folks with disabilities and seniors — she's turning their backs on them."

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Photos: The political life of Michele Bachmann

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  1. President George W. Bush campaigns with state Sen. Michele Bachmann in Wayzata, Minn. during her first Congressional race in August 2006. (Evan Vucci / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  2. As a state senator, Bachmann proposed a constitutional amendment to define marriage as a union between a man and a woman. She is pictured here speaking during a Senate hearing at the Capitol in St. Paul, Minn. in 2006. (Janet Hostetter / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  3. Helen LaFave, right, Bachmann's lesbian stepsister, speaks to the media at the Capitol in St. Paul, Minn. LaFave attended the 2006 hearing at which Bachmann presented her amendment to ban same-sex marriage. Her partner of 18 years, Nia Wronski, is seen at left. (Janet Hostetter / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  4. Bachmann walks on stage during the second day of the Republican National Convention in St. Paul in September 2008. (Win McNamee / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  5. Bachmann attracted national attention when she said that Democratic nominee Barack Obama "may have anti-American views" during an interview on MSNBC's Hardball with Chris Matthews in October 2008. (MSNBC) Back to slideshow navigation
  6. Bachmann participates in the launching of the Republican National Committee's "Fire Pelosi" bus tour on September 15, 2010 in Washington, DC. (Mark Wilson / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  7. Bachmann, a leading critic of the Obama-backed health care law, lobbies for petitions calling for repeal of Obamacare in January 2011 on Capitol Hill. (Tim Sloan / AFP/Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  8. Bachmann rankled some Republicans when she gave a "Tea Party" response to the president's State of the Union address in 2011. Critics said she detracted from the standard GOP response, which was given by House budget chief Rep. Paul Ryan. (NBC News) Back to slideshow navigation
  9. Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) (C), her husband Marcus Bachmann (R) and Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad listens to Bachmann's introduction prior to her speach at the Iowans for Tax Relief PAC Watchdog Reception January 21, 2011 in Des Moines, Iowa. Bachmann spoke to Iowa's largest anti-tax group amidst speculation that she will run for president as a Republican candidate in 2012. (Steve Pope / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  10. Bachmann looks at a cake commemorating the 100th birthday of former U.S. president Ronald Reagan at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Washington in February 2011. (Joshua Roberts / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  11. Bachmann speaks at a rally by home school advocates in in Des Moines, Iowa in March 2011. More than 1,000 home school advocates rallied on the steps of the Iowa Statehouse, cheered on by three potential Republican presidential candidates who joined their cause. (Charlie Neibergall / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  12. Rep. Michele Bachmann, speaks to supporters during her formal announcement to seek the 2012 Republican presidential nomination, June 27, 2011, in Waterloo, Iowa. Bachmann was born in Waterloo. (Charlie Neibergall / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  13. Republican U.S. presidential candidate and Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann waves to supporters after speaking during the Iowa straw poll in Ames, Iowa Aug. 13, 2011. Bachmann won the Ames Straw Poll with 29% of the vote, edging out Rep. Ron Paul by 152 votes, or 28%. (Daniel Acker / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  14. A police officer guards Republican presidential candidate Michele Bachmann after protesters from the Occupy Wall Street movement drowned out her foreign policy speech on Nov. 10, 2011 in Mt Pleasant, South Carolina. About 30 people rose in unison and began shouting during Bachmann's address aboard the USS Yorktown and then marched out peacefully. (Richard Ellis / Getty Images Contributor) Back to slideshow navigation
  15. Rep. Michele Bachmann is joined by her husband, left, during a news conference formally ending her campaign for the Republican presidential nomination on Jan. 4, 2012 in West Des Moines, Iowa. Bachmann made the decision after a poor finish in the 2012 Iowa caucuses. (Andrew Burton / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
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