By Rebecca Mayo, J.D.
Attitudes about the Medicaid program are largely driven by party identification, the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) discovered as part of its effort to examine the role of health care in the 2018 midterm elections. KFF has begun tracking the views of voters in battleground states by using Kaiser Health Tracking Polls. One poll found that the majority of the public continues to see Medicaid favorably and believe that the Medicaid program is working well. Finally, the poll found a slight increase in the share of the public who say they have a favorable view of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) (P.L. 111-148).
Medicaid. Seven in ten Americans say they have had a connection to the Medicaid program either directly through their own health insurance coverage or their child being covered by the program, or indirectly through a friend or family member covered by the program. Seventy-four percent of the public holds favorable views of Medicaid without much variation among parties. However, of those who hold unfavorable views of Medicaid, the share of Republicans is more than double the share of Democrats. Across partisans, about half of people say that the Medicaid program is "working well" and about one-third say it is "not working well."
Medicaid expansion. TheACA allowed states to expand Medicaid coverage to more low-income people. Fifty-six percent of individuals living in states that have not expanded their Medicaid programs, say they think their state should expand Medicaid. The majority (54 percent) of Republicans in those states tend to favor leaving Medicaid as it is. The majority of Democrats and Independents tend to favor expansion—75 percent and 57 percent respectively.
Proposed Medicaid changes. Eighty-four percent of Democrats and 64 percent of Independents say Medicaid should be available without lifetime limits, while Republicans are divided with 51 percent favoring life time limits and 47 percent against life time limits. Of individuals who have ever had a connection to Medicaid, 71 percent say they do not support life time limits, while only 28 percent say they support limits. When asked about proposed work requirement waivers, 41 percent of the public said that they believe the main reason behind the proposals is to reduce government spending and 33 percent believe it is to help lift people out of poverty.
ACA. The share of the public who say they hold a favorable view of the ACA has increased from 50 percent in January 2018 to 54 percent, while 42 percent currently say they hold an unfavorable view. This is the highest level of favorability measured in more than 80 Kaiser Health Tracking Polls since 2010, with the largest jump coming from 55 percent of Independents who currently say they have a favorable view compared to 48 percent last month. The share of the public who are aware that the ACA’s individual mandate was repealed went up 5 percent compared to January 2018. However, 61 percent are either unaware that the requirement has been repealed or are aware that it has been repealed but incorrectly think the requirement is not in effect in 2018. Only 13 percent are aware it was repealed and is in effect for 2018.
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