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Poll: Even VA Democrats think Medicaid expansion will boost their health care costs

By   /   March 19, 2014  /   No Comments

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MEDICAID MONEY: Even Democrats think Medicaid expansion will increase their personal health care costs.

By Kathryn Watson | Watchdog.org, Virginia Bureau

ALEXANDRIA, Va. — A vast majority of Virginians — even likely  voters who generally support Medicaid expansion — say they believe their personal health care costs likely will go up if the program expands, according to a new poll by a free markets-oriented group.

While Virginians were pretty split on the issue — 42 percent of those polled are in favor, 41 percent are against — they tended to think expansion will involve some sort of sacrifice, according to the March 7-9 poll of 469 likely Virginia voters conducted by Campaign Management Services for the Foundation for Government Accountability.

More than 56 percent of likely Democrat voters said their health care costs are “somewhat likely” or “very likely” to increase with Medicaid expansion, while 87 percent of likely Republicans voters and 68 percent of likely independent voters said the same. All political groups were also less likely to support expansion if it would take away funding from schools, infrastructure and public safety.

“I think most polls that I’ve seen in Virginia always talk about Medicaid expansion and free money, but federal money is never free,” Christie Herrera, a senior fellow with the Foundation for Government Accountability, told Watchdog.org.

Herrera has testified before the Medicaid Innovation and Reform Commission about other free-market alternatives for helping the poor with health care.

The poll was conducted by automated phone calls, and has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.5 percentage points. Other polls have shown similar outcomes on the expansion issue. A March Quinnipiac poll showed 45 percent of Virginian respondents favoring expansion, and 43 percent opposed.

Still, as Virginia hunkers down for yet another battle over Medicaid and the budget with a special session Monday, the FGA poll revealed there’s a lot on the line — financially and politically.

Roughly three out of four respondents who identified themselves as likely Republican voters said they would be less likely to vote for a state lawmaker who voted for expansion.

“This absolutely signals that Speaker (Bill) Howell and the House of Delegates are on the right track and it is a big red flag for Senators Emmett Hanger, Walter Stosch and John Watkins,” Herrera said.

Of the respondents, 233 were likely Republican voters, 44 were likely independent voters, and 192 were likely Democrat voters.

Other findings:

  • Democrats slightly favored shutting down the government in pursuit of Medicaid expansion. Independents and Republicans strongly opposed a shutdown.
  • Women were more likely to want to expand Medicaid now and reform it later, while men were more likely to want to reform the program first before considering expansion.
  • Younger and middle-aged people (under 55) generally supported expansion, while older people (55 and older) generally opposed expansion.
  • Independents equally wanted reform before considering expansion, and expansion before reform — 36.36 percent to 36.36 percent.
  • Democrats were more likely to support Medicaid expansion knowing that roughly one-third of the new population will be inmates, while Republicans and independents were less likely to support expansion knowing that.

See the full poll results online here.

— Kathryn Watson is an investigative reporter for Watchdog.org’s Virginia Bureau, and can be reached at kwatson@watchdog.org

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Kathryn Watson is an investigative reporter for Watchdog.org's Virginia Bureau. Her work has appeared in places like Drudge Report, Washington Examiner, Reason and Human Events, and she has made appearances on Fox News and NBC4. An alumna of the National Journalism Center, Katie is a member of Investigative Reporters Editors. She graduated with a journalism degree and highest honors from Biola University in L.A., where she ran the student newspaper. After college, she reported for a mid-sized newspaper in Santa Barbara, Calif. Her work has earned her "Best in Show" and two first-place awards from the Virginia Press Association.

Watchdog.org Virginia Bureau, is in no way affiliated with "The Virginia Watchdog". Any similarities between Watchdog.org Virginia Bureau and "The Virginia Watchdog" is completely coincidental and unintentional. Any inquiries into "The Virginia Watchdog" may be done through their site.