Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act enjoys quite a bit of support from health care experts, hospital administrators, most of the nation’s governors (from both parties), advocates for low-income families, and those with policymakers with access to calculators.
But it’s worth keeping in mind that voters are on board, too. The Washington Post reports today on a new survey from the Wason Center at Christopher Newport University, which found that 56% of Virginia residents support expansion – a top priority for Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D), who made this a key part of his 2013 platform.
The poll found that supporters of a federally funded expansion included 55 percent of self-identified Republicans and majorities in every region of the state. […]
Virginia would initially receive about $2 billion a year from Washington if it expanded Medicaid, which would offer coverage to about 400,000 of the state’s uninsured. A recent estimate from the state Health Department projected that expansion would save Virginia about $1 billion over eight years. Among other factors, Medicaid expansion would move many indigent patients to federally funded care.
And it’s not just Virginia. Two weeks ago, a statewide poll in Kentucky found that 79% of state residents agreed with Gov. Steve Beshear’s decision to expand Medicaid coverage. Even 60% of Kentucky Republicans support the idea, suggesting Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R) hasn’t exactly persuaded his own in-state allies on the issue.
And the week before that, a statewide survey in South Dakota found 63% of state residents are on board with Medicaid expansion.
It’s one thing for the right’s arguments against Medicaid expansion to fall short in states like Vermont and Hawaii, but these polls suggest the conservative talking points aren’t connecting in Virginia, Kentucky, and South Dakota, either.
But the pushback against the policy, popular or not, isn’t going away.
Dylan Scott had a report this morning on developments in Arkansas, where a group of state GOP lawmakers are working on halting coverage for more than 85,000 Arkansans who’ve already gained coverage through the policy.
The revanchist Republicans are setting up their state, one of 25 to expand Medicaid this year under the health care reform law, to be the first to strip Obamacare coverage from people who already have it. Arkansas expanded the program, using a unique privatized model, under the tutelage of Democratic Gov. Mike Beebe and with the support of most GOP leaders in the legislature. But a cohort of conservative lawmakers believe they now have enough votes to block funding for the expansion during the legislative session that starts next week.
The problem is: Under Arkansas law, the state legislature must vote again this year to accept federal funding for the expansion next year. Expanding Medicaid for 2014 required a 75-percent majority in each chamber, and accepting the 2015 funding does, too.
It now appears proponents may lack the necessary votes.
Why so many Republicans in the Arkansas legislature want more residents to be uninsured is unclear.