You’ve heard that the Affordable Care Act polls slightly better than Obamacare. But there’s a part of the president’s signature legislative accomplishment that polls even better than either name: Medicaid expansion.
In two of the nation’s crucial presidential swing states — Ohio and Pennsylvania — majorities support expanding health coverage to those earning 133 percent of the poverty level. A poll from earlier this year showed that even in five of the reddest states in the Deep South, 63 percent supported expanding Medicaid.
The reasons behind expansion’s popularity are simple: It creates jobs, it encourages those in poverty to earn more without losing their health coverage and it keeps people from relying exclusively on emergency rooms for medical attention. It’s also a huge victory in the fight against income inequality, the crisis that defines this time.
And not expanding Medicaid can raise the rates in your state’s insurance exchange by 15 percent, according to Romneycare/Obamacare architect Jonathan Gruber.
The argument against expansion — we can’t count on the government to pay the 90 percent of coverage they promise over the long-term — is ridiculous. Medicaid has been funded for decades and the only way it would be cut is if Republicans get power and cut it. Thus they’re saying, I don’t trust myself to fund this program I don’t want.
Their biggest problem is that most people do want it.
In Virginia, Ken Cuccinelli ran agains Medicaid expansion and lost. Republican Vance McAllister won a special election in Louisiana while supporting expansion.
The Washington Post‘s Greg Sargent reports that expansion is becoming a cudgel that will be used against Republican governors across the nation. And this is possible because the program is working where it has been accepted.
“A new report from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services finds that over 1.4 million people in October were deemed eligible to enroll in Medicaid or CHIP,” Sargent writes. “There was a far larger jump in applications where states are expanding Medicaid than where they aren’t — another sign Obamacare may benefit far more people in states where GOP governors are not trying to block the expansion.”
In Michigan, Rick Snyder’s dismal poll numbers improved slightly after he embraced the Medicaid expansion. And Republican candidate for Terri Lynn Land has boxed herself in by flip-flopping and coming out for repeal to avoid a Republican challenger. She may say she wants to repeal Obamacare until the primary is over.
But we should point out until November that she also wants to repeal Medicaid expansion.