GOP and Independent male voters against expansion plans; Democrats strongly support
A significant number of Michigan voters are worried about the effects of expanding Medicaid as Gov. Rick Snyder wants, according to a new survey.
More than three-quarters of those surveyed (77 percent) said there is too much disagreement among experts about Medicaid program costs to rush into an expansion decision. In response to another question, 74 percent said they don't want the program expanded "until the waste, fraud and abuse in the program is cleaned up." And 65 percent said they don't think the federal government will live up to its payment promises and thereby leave Michigan taxpayers on the hook for Medicaid expansion costs.
Because of Obamacare, the White House is pushing to expand Medicaid in the states. The Obama administration promises that the federal government will pay 100 percent of the additional cost for new enrollees for three years, and then decrease that through 2021 until the state budget becomes responsible for paying 10 percent of the cost.
Gov. Snyder wants Medicaid in Michigan expanded to all uninsured state residents with household income levels up to 133 percent of the poverty level. It has been estimated that expanding the program would add 470,000 or more people to the program.
When asked the generic question of whether Medicaid should be expanded, 49 percent of respondents said yes; 39 percent said no; and 12 percent were undecided (slide 16 of the report). When the question was asked including Medicaid expansion up to 138 percent of the poverty level, 50 percent of survey respondents said yes; 40 percent said no; and 10 percent were undecided (slide 20 of the report).
But when given examples of what could happen if Medicaid was expanded in Michigan, respondents were less certain, voting 47 percent for expansion and 44 percent against (slide 21 of the report). The survey had a margin of error of plus or minus 4.4 percent.
"When you ask people if the federal government should cut spending, people say yes, but when you start selecting programs to cut they say, no," said Matt Mayer of the Liberty Foundation of America, which co-sponsored the survey with the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. "It's the same here. In the abstract, sure they want to expand Medicaid. But when people learn about the potential effects, their opinions change."
Active Republican voters in Michigan most strongly oppose Medicaid expansion, according to the survey. Among Republicans, 64 percent said they opposed the Medicaid expansion, but after being told details of the expansion, the percentage of Republicans who said they were opposed jumped to 72 percent. Also, 59 percent of men who were surveyed and who identified themselves as Independents were opposed to Medicaid expansion in Michigan.
Eighty percent of Democrats who were surveyed favor expansion.
Jack McHugh, senior legislative analyst for the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, has written about this issue extensively, pointing out the budget trap that could befall Michigan taxpayers and the problems the state could face if it makes the wrong decision.
"Hardly a week goes by without new reports from Washington of Obamacare implementation glitches, delays and unanswered questions, indicating the law is still highly vulnerable," McHugh said. "In addition, there's abundant evidence the optional Medicaid expansion will impose much higher future costs on Michigan taxpayers than proponents' acknowledge. This poll suggests the public senses these things, and has logically concluded the expansion simply doesn’t make sense for Michigan at this time."
The poll results are from a statewide survey of 507 active voters, conducted April 7-8 by Hill Research Consultants.
One-third of the survey respondents identified themselves as Democrats. Another 29 percent identified themselves as Independents and 24 percent were self-described Republicans. Nearly one in 10 (9 percent) described themselves as something else. Of the others surveyed, 4 percent refused to identify themselves politically and 2 percent said they were unsure.
Sixty-one percent of those surveyed said it was a "convincing argument" not to expand Medicaid because it would "allow too many able-bodied young people to get insurance, even if they just chose not to work to provide for their own health care needs."
Nearly 80 percent said they would enroll in Medicaid if they were "uninsured, needed health care and were qualified" to participate. But only 3 percent said they thought Michigan's Medicaid program is "honest;" 17 percent said it was "competent;" and 10 percent said it was "efficient." About 5 percent of active voters in Michigan receive Medicaid benefits, according to the survey.
To see the full results of the survey, click here: "Topline Michigan Medicaid." To see the results broken down, click here: "Michigan Medicaid Crosstabs." To see an excel document summarizing the results, click here: "Survey Summary Table."