Inside Augusta

Poll: Mainers’ support for Medicaid expansion soft

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medicaidA poll released Wednesday by opponents of Medicaid expansion found support for the proposal decreases significantly when voters are made aware of certain facts about the proposal.

The poll, which was released by Americans for Prosperity Maine and the Foundation for Government Accountability, measured respondents’ support for Medicaid expansion before and after they were asked questions informing them of key facts related to the proposal.

“The results of this poll confirm why supporters of Medicaid expansion have been so hostile toward efforts to educate Maine patients and taxpayers about the true costs of this ObamaCare scheme,” said AFP Maine State Director Carol Weston.

“The more that Maine people know about the dangerous risks of Medicaid expansion, the more their opposition to it grows,” she said.

The facts Weston references will no doubt be disputed by supporters of expansion.

Question 3 of the poll asked, “If you knew Medicaid expansion was mostly paid for by cutting $716 billion from seniors’ Medicare program, would you be more or less likely to support Medicaid expansion?”

Fifty percent of Democrats and 73 percent of Republicans said knowing about the cuts to Medicare would make them less likely to support expansion.

Question 4 of the poll asked, “If you knew that almost 1 in 3 Mainers eligible for Medicaid expansion are former prison inmates, would you be more or less likely to support Medicaid expansion?”

In response to that question, 45 percent of Democrats, 73 percent of Republicans, and 77 percent of “Green Independents” said they would be less likely to support expansion.

Question 5 asks about the crowding out effect on expansion on other state spending priorities: “If you knew expanding Medicaid in Maine could result in funding cuts to education, infrastructure, public safety and veterans’ benefits, would you be more or less likely to support Medicaid expansion?”

The threat to other spending priorities made 47 percent of Democrats less likely to support expansion, while 73 percent and 72 percent of Republicans and Green Independents, respectively, were less likely to support expansion after being informed of the potential consequences for education, infrastructure and public safety.

The final question measured the impact of the message the LePage administration has frequently relied on: expansions impact on waitlisted elderly and disabled individuals. Question 6 asked, “Maine currently has 3,100 elderly and disabled patients on waitlists for Medicaid services. Expanding Medicaid in Maine could force these patients to wait even longer so working-age, able-bodied adults with no kids could receive Medicaid benefits right away. Knowing this, are you more or less likely to support Medicaid expansion?”

This information led 44 percent and 45.5 percent of Democrats and Green Independents, respectively, to say they were less likely to support expansion, while 70 percent of Republicans responded similarly.

“Facts are a dangerous thing when you are on the wrong side of them,” said Foundation for Government Accountability CEO Tarren Bragdon, a former CEO of The Maine Heritage Policy Center and former member of the Maine House of Representatives from Bangor.

“There is a simple message here that connects with voters regardless of their political affiliation,” said Bragdon. “ObamaCare’s Medicaid expansion is wrong for patients, wrong for seniors, wrong for taxpayers and wrong for the state budget.”

The 10-question poll was conducted between March 11 and March 24 by CMS, Inc., an Arlington, Va.-based polling firm. The sample size included 581 Maine voters who responded to all 10 questions. The poll’s margin of error is 4.1 percent.

Supporters of Medicaid expansion will likely dismiss the poll results as biased. (AFP and FGA have included citations for all of the questions perhaps because they anticipate such criticism.) But the results will serve to crystallize conservative opposition to one critical aspect of the Affordable Care Act. The results also cast doubt as to whether Democrats will find success making expansion into a 2014 campaign issue, as they’ve promised to do.

Although U.S. Rep. Michael Michaud, in his bid to become Maine’s next Democratic governor, will be able to produce stirring 30-second ad spots featuring individuals who would have received free medical care under expansion, the poll results suggest minimal voter education could turn the GOP’s opposition into a net positive, even among independent voters.

Here’s the full poll press release: 

 

 

About Steve Robinson

Steve Robinson was the editor of The Maine Wire from 2013 through 2014. A native of Dexter, Maine, Robinson is a graduate of Bowdoin College, and is currently a Producer for The Howie Carr Show in Boston.

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