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POLL: Majority Want States to Accept Federal Medicaid-Expansion Funding

February 26, 2013

Strong majorities in seven key states say they would support their state accepting federal funds to expand Medicaid, according to polling data released by the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) on January 23.

At least 58 percent of registered voters surveyed in each of the seven states (Florida, Iowa, Kentucky, Michigan, New Jersey, New Mexico, Texas) said they are in favor of accepting the funding.

Through the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the Obama Administration plans to make increased funding available to states willing to broaden eligibility to 138 percent of the federal poverty level.

As originally passed, the ACA would have required states to expand Medicaid eligibility or risk losing their entire allotment of federal matching funds for the health insurance program, which is paid for jointly by states and the federal government.

That requirement was struck down by the Supreme Court in its June 2012 decision upholding the bulk of the health reform law. States now have the option of expanding Medicaid eligibility without risk of penalty.

In recent weeks, among the states surveyed by ACS CAN, governors of Michigan, New Mexico, Florida, and New Jersey have announced their intentions to accept federal funds to insure low-income residents in their states.

Governors Oppose Plan Despite Public Support

“States have an opportunity to provide millions of currently uninsured people nationwide with lifesaving health coverage through Medicaid, and public sentiment in various areas of the country is decidedly in favor of states using available federal dollars to pay for it,” said Chris Hansen, president of ACS CAN.

Nevertheless, governors of at least 12 states, including Texas, say they will not accept the increased Medicaid funding. The ACS CAN poll shows that 58 percent of Texans favor accepting the increased federal funds.

According to the Advisory Board, a research firm, Iowa is said to be “leaning” toward turning down increased funding, despite a majority of 67 percent who favor accepting the funds.

Medicaid Expansion Would Help Direct-Care Workers

Because many direct-care workers earn wages below 138 percent of poverty, they expansion of Medicaid is crucial to their ability to access affordable coverage.

PHI estimates that the full expansion of Medicaid in all 50 states will result in coverage for 350,000 direct-care workers currently uninsured.

— by Matthew Ozga

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