AFFORDABLE CARE ACT

Poll: Floridians favor Medicaid expansion

 

About 62 percent of those polled favored an expansion of Medicaid, a state/federal health insurance program for the state’s poorest residents.

Herald/Times Tallahassee Bureau

The vast majority of Floridians want lawmakers to accept federal money to expand Medicaid, according to a new survey sponsored by the Florida Hospital Association and conducted by a Republican-leaning pollster.

Of 600 voters polled, 62 percent said the state should take the money and use it to reduce the number of uninsured Floridians. Nearly half of respondents, 49 percent, said they felt strongly about accepting the money. The survey was conducted Jan. 15-17 by Public Opinion Strategies and has a 4 percentage point margin of error.

The Senate's Select Committee on the Affordable Care Act will discuss Medicaid expansion during a meeting Monday. Chairman Joe Negron, R-Stuart, said he isn't swayed by polls because the feedback he receives directly from constituents is a mixed bag.

"I'm out talking to voters and to the people that I represent to ask them what they think, and that does persuade me," Negron said.

Hospitals generally support the Medicaid expansion, as well as the wider health care law, because more people would have insurance and therefore be able to pay for the services they receive. However, Florida legislators and Gov. Rick Scott have said they are worried about the long term costs of adding 1 million people to the Medicaid rolls.

They are not alone.

So far, only six states led by Republican governors have indicated that they will participate in the Medicaid expansion. This week, Ohio Gov. John Kasich and Michigan Gov. John Snyder said they would like to accept the federal funding.

In addition to releasing the poll Friday, the Florida Hospital Association announced the launch of "The Florida Remedy," a campaign it is leading to influence lawmakers to support the Medicaid expansion.

"Floridians believe that everyone should have access to high quality, affordable health care, and this is a remedy the vast majority of voters support," Florida Hospital Association President Bruce Rueben said in a news release.

Under the Florida Remedy campaign, the state is urged to support the expansion now but vow to pull back if the federal government ever withdraws financial support. The campaign also ties the expansion debate into Florida's proposal to privatize Medicaid, which is awaiting federal approval.

Contact Tia Mitchell at tmitchell@tampabay.com or (850) 224-7263.

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