Poll: Majority of Kentuckians Support Expanded Medicaid Under Obamacare, Including Most Republicans
An overwhelming majority of Kentuckians support the state's decision to expand Medicaid for low-income residents under the Affordable Care Act, including most self-identified Republicans.That's according to a new poll released by the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky this month, which is the first since the health care rollout began in the state.It shows 79 percent of residents favor Governor Steve Beshear’s decision to expand Medicaid rolls last year.The poll finds nearly 90 percent of surveyed adults saying it is important for the state to do so.Under the president's health care law states are provided funding to increase Medicaid eligibility to all residents with incomes up to 138 percent of the federal poverty line. But the U.S. Supreme Court ruled state governments have a right to opt out of that provision, and about half have decided against Medicaid expansion.In Kentucky, residents have had an unfavorable opinion of President Obama's signature overhaul.But Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky President and CEO Susan Zepeda says their polling has consistently shown residents embrace key provisions of the law such as barring pre-existing conditions and tax incentives for employers."Kentuckians have throughout the years that we've been asking this question supported access," she says. "They do poll as not knowing a lot about the Affordable Care Act or opposing it at about the same rate that national surveys find.""The interesting thing to us on the expansion support is it does seem aligned with Kentuckians willingness to recapture the funds that Kentucky has sent to Washington in the form of our taxes, to get those back to Kentuckians through the appropriation process or in this case through embracing the Medicaid expansion."Since the state launched it health exchange last October, over 162,000 Kentuckians have enrolled in either Medicaid or private health plans. State officials estimate approximately 308,000 uninsured residents will now qualify for health care coverage due to Medicaid expansion.Most Kentucky Republicans at the state and federal level have been critical of Beshear’s decision, either questioning his constitutional authority to expand the entitlement program or pointing out the state will have to pick up the additional cost in the coming years.Under the health care law, federal funding will decrease gradually after three years to about 90 percent at the end of the decade.In a statement, Robert Steurer, a spokesman for Senator Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., told WFPL adding more Kentuckians to the state's "struggling Medicaid program" is not the solution.