PPACA’s Medicaid expansion may be more popular than thought

By BenefitsPro

By Kathryn Mayer

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act isn’t winning any popularity contests in America’s most conservative states, but a surprising number of residents in the Deep South have a favorable opinion of the law’s Medicaid expansion.

According to a poll out this week by advocacy group Families USA, nearly two-thirds of residents in Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi and South Carolina support Medicaid expansion, one of PPACA’s furthest reaching provisions.

The health care law expands Medicaid to those at 133 percent of the federal poverty line, but the Supreme Court ruled last year that states can have the ability to opt out of the expansion.

The poll, conducted between March 5 and April 8 by the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, found that Medicaid expansion is supported by 78 percent of self-proclaimed liberals, 70 percent of politically moderate respondents, and 47 percent of conservative respondents.

Support also was highest among blacks (85 percent) and individuals with annual household incomes below $15,000 (82 percent).

All of the states surveyed are led by Republican governors who have decided not to expand their Medicaid programs under PPACA. The five states also rank among the lowest in overall health. According to the United Health Foundation’s state health rankings, Mississippi and Louisiana tied for last in terms of overall health.

“The results of this report should paint a clear picture for Southern governors that refusing to implement the Medicaid expansion places them out of step with the needs and wishes of their constituents,” Ron Pollack, executive director of Families USA, said.

“These governors need to acknowledge what a growing list of other governors — Democrats and Republicans — have recognized, namely, that the Medicaid expansion is a win-win-win for the people of their states,” Pollack said. “It will reduce the number of people who can’t afford health care, it will increase the number of jobs throughout the state, and it will strengthen the state’s economy.”

Though many Republican governors across the nation had refused to set up their own state exchange — and instead are leaving the government to take over that role — a number of them have supported the expansion, including New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Florida Gov. Rick Scott.

And though the majority of respondents also held favorable views of PPACA’s health insurance exchanges and insurance subsidies, just 33 percent viewed the law “favorably” and 31 percent supported the individual mandate. That’s mostly in line with overall public opinion of the law. According to Kaiser Family Foundation’s most recent health tracking poll, 40 percent of Americans have an unfavorable view of the law, compared with 35 percent who have a favorable view.

Originally published on BenefitsPro.com