Friday, January 24, 2014

Poll finds that 79 percent of Kentuckians, including 60 percent of Republicans, support Beshear's expansion of Medicaid

By Melissa Patrick and Al Cross
Kentucky Health News

Kentuckians strongly support Gov. Steve Beshear's decision to make hundreds of thousands more of them eligible for Medicaid under the federal health-reform law, according to a statewide poll taken last fall.

Democrats, Republicans, independents and all demographic and geographic groups defined in the poll largely supported Medicaid expansion and said it was important that the federal-state program provide coverage to low-income people. Beshear's move doubled the income eligibility level to 138 percent of the federal poverty threshold, from 69 percent. In 2012, the threshold was $15,415 for a single person and $30,675 for a family of four.
The poll found that 79 percent of Kentucky adults favored expansion, with 51 percent strongly favoring it and 28 percent favoring it somewhat; 87 percent said that it is very important (57 percent) or somewhat important (30 percent) that Medicaid provide coverage to low-income people.

Several Republican leaders have opposed Medicaid expansion, but 60 percent of Republicans in the poll said they favored it (33 percent "somewhat" and 27 percent "strongly"). Among independents and Democrats, respectively, the numbers were 83 percent and 90 percent.

The margin of error in the Kentucky Health Issues Poll was plus or minus 2.5 percentage points.  The poll randomly surveyed 1,551 Kentucky adults by telephone, with 951 land-line interviews and 600 cell-phone interviews Oct. 25 through Nov. 26. The poll is sponsored by the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky and Interact for Health, formerly the Health Foundation of Greater Cincinnati.

Under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, the federal government will pay the cost of all the newly eligible Medicaid recipients through 2016. From 2017 to 2020, the state's share will rise in steps to 10 percent.

An estimated 308,000 uninsured Kentuckians qualify for Medicaid, according to the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services, and can find out if they qualify for Medicaid coverage at Kynect, the state's health-insurance marketplace.

For a brief guide to polling and statistics, click here.

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