As the White House and House Republicans continue to discuss plans to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, a new survey of more than 7,000 registered voters in eight states, including Florida, finds growing public support for the health law’s Medicaid expansion option.
In four states that didn’t expand Medicaid — Florida, North Carolina, Texas and Virginia — more than six in 10 voters said they’d like their states to provide the extra coverage, according to the study conducted by the University of Marylandbetween November and January. Voters in the states that had expanded Medicaid — California, Maryland, New York and Ohio — also said they favored the measure.
In Florida, 67 percent of all voters surveyed favored Medicaid expansion compared to 64 percent nationally.
But politicians and the public should not misinterpret the survey to read that the majority of Americans are satisfied with the health law commonly known as Obamacare, said Steve Kull, director of UM’s Program for Public Consultation and leader of the survey.
Republicans tended to oppose expansion while Democrats favored the idea, the survey noted. But an overall majority agreed that, as a nation, America should find a way to provide health insurance coverage for those who cannot afford it. They just disagree on how to get there.
“There’s a tendency to underestimate how much Americans are concerned about the poor, and providing healthcare to the poor,” Kull said, “that one way or another that should happen.”
Taken another way, Kull said, many Americans may be dissatisfied with the ACA but that doesn’t necessarily mean they want to scrap the entire law — a sentiment that may help explain why other surveys show the law gaining in popularity since the general election in November.
“What’s going on now is there’s the prospect that it will go away,” he said. “So it’s like, ‘Oh, just because I’m dissatisfied with it doesn't mean I want it to go away.’”
A total of 31 states have expanded eligibility for Medicaid since 2014, when the ACA’s major coverage expansions took effect.
Another 19 states, including Florida, have refused, leaving an estimated 2.6 million Americans, mostly low-income adults, in a no-man’s-land called “the coverage gap,” where they do not earn enough income to qualify for financial aid to buy a plan on the ACA exchange but make too much to qualify for Medicaid.