Saturday, October 31, 2015

Most registered voters, including 27% of Bevin backers, want to continue the state's expansion of Medicaid under Obamacare

The expansion of Medicaid, the federal-state health program, has solid support among Kentuckians despite being an issue in Tuesday's election for governor.

Most registered voters in the latest Bluegrass Poll said they wanted to maintain the expansion of Medcaid benefits implements by outgoing Gov. Steve Beshear: 54 percent said they wanted to keep it, while 24 percent said they wanted to reverse it and 22 percent said they weren't sure. The error margin for the sample of 1,016 voters, called Oct. 23-26, is plus or minus 3.1 percentage points.

Republican gubernatorial nominee Matt Bevin first said he would abolish the expansion, but for the last three months has said he would seek a federal waiver to revise it. He has offered few details, but generally says he wants Medicaid recipients to have "skin in the game" through co-payments, deductibles, premiums or health savings accounts.

Bevin scoffs at the state-funded study that says so many people have been added to the health-care system that enough jobs and tax revenue will be created to cover the cost of the expansion through 2020. Attorney General Jack Conway, the Democratic nominee, says he believes the study, but acknowledged in their last debate that if he is elected it will be a challenge for him to prove it.

Under federal health reform, the federal government pays the full cost of the expansion, to people in households with incomes up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level ($33,465 for a family of four), through 2016. In 2017 states will pay 5 percent, rising in annual steps to the law's limit of 10 percent in 2020.

The Bluegrass Poll found that 27 percent of those who said they plan to vote for Bevin want to maintain the expansion, while only 7 percent of those who plan to vote for Conway want to reverse it.

As might be expected, most Republicans want the expansion to be reversed, while Democrats and independents want to maintain it. Conservative Democrats appear to support it; the poll found that while voters calling themselves "very conservative" want it reversed, those identifying as merely "conservative" were about evenly divided and all other ideologies strongly supported keeping it.

The expansion is favored in all income, education and geographic groups. Here is a table of the results from the company that did the poll for The Courier-Journal, WHAS-TV, the Lexington Herald-Leader and WKYT-TV (click on image for larger version):

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