James Madison Institute releases poll showing a majority of Fla. voters oppose medicaid expansion

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Following Governor Rick Scott’s announcement in support of Medicaid expansion and Speaker Will Weatherford’s response, The James Madison Institute (JMI) released a poll showing that a majority of Floridians, 63 percent, are concerned that the federal government will eventually change the program, reduce the amount it reimburses to Florida, and add additional expenses to Florida taxpayers. Additionally, nearly 60 percent of respondents think the Governor and the Legislature should opt not to expand Medicaid, keeping taxes and spending on current trajectories. 

“The PPACA mandate will increase the cost of Medicaid already by increasing the number of enrollees that are currently eligible, but not enrolled. More than 50 percent of Floridians polled were less likely to support the expansion when they considered this fact. The federal share of their care is much less–about 56 percent–leaving the state to handle the additional cost,” said Bob Sanchez, JMI policy director. “The expansion of new Medicaid eligibles, combined with the addition of currently unaccounted for eligibles, both flooding the taxpayer subsidized program, could result in a shortage of providers willing to accept the low fees that Medicaid is expected to pay even under the managed care model for Florida.” 

JMI recently released the policy brief, “Florida’s Best Medicaid Option under the PPACA: Expand the Reforms, Not the Rolls” that outlined a report on studies in California revealing that patients who are uninsured actually received better medical care in many situations than those on Medicaid. JMI’s poll also shows that a majority from all demographics, 65 percent overall, would oppose Medicaid expansion if the impact pulled adults out of private coverage and decreased access to doctors. More than 55 percent of Floridians would rather improve the private market to cover more uninsured, than to expand Medicaid.

 “The Governor’s announcement has come as a bit of a surprise. We understand his desire to improve the health care system in our state. However, we believe that expanding an ineffective program in an attempt to provide health insurance is bad policy. We need to be focused on expanding quality health care to more individuals by making private coverage more accessible and affordable,” said Thomas Perrin, JMI public affairs director. “As Speaker Weatherford has reiterated, the Florida Legislature will make the ultimate decision on Medicaid expansion and the debate is not over.”

Additional poll results include:

  • More than 60 percent of Floridians polled would be less likely to support Medicaid expansion if doing so would require either additional taxes or less state spending on other priorities such as education, roads and law enforcement.
  • Over two-thirds of Floridians state that the top priorities for the Governor and Legislature should be creating jobs and improving education.
  • More than 85 percent polled say they are somewhat to very concerned about the increase in the National Debt and health care spending.
  • If Medicaid were to become an even higher percentage of overall state spending, 56 percent of Floridians would be less likely to support expanding the program.
  • When provided the range of estimated expansion costs by multiple experts, nearly 60 percent of Floridians, a majority of Democrat and Republican voters, would be less likely to support expansion. 

“Given Medicaid’s reputation for providing inadequate health care, thereby hurting those whom it was intended to help, it’s not a surprise that JMI’s poll expressed significant opposition to expanding this badly flawed entitlement program,” said Dr. Bob McClure, JMI president and CEO. “This poll encompasses all facets of Medicaid expansion, not just the positives of expanding health insurance.” 

This poll of 600 registered Florida voters was conducted by Public Insight February 16 – 19, 2013. All respondents were randomly chosen from a fully representative sample of registered voters.  For purposes of this survey, those interviewed included voters who had voted in at least two of the last four General elections, and some new registrants. The margin of error for the poll will be +/- 4 percent.

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.