A new poll shows that Kentucky voters by a 2 to 1 margin believe the state should leave Kentucky’s Medicaid program as it is, with no reduction in the number of people who are covered. By a similar margin, they oppose cutting back dental, vision and non-emergency transportation services, even if dental and vision care could be “earned” back through required activities.
The reductions in coverage and benefits are features of the Bevin administration’s 1115 Medicaid Waiver plan known as Kentucky HEALTH.
According to the poll, conducted in mid-December by Mason-Dixon Polling and Research, Inc., 66 percent of Kentuckians statewide oppose scaling back Medicaid services.
The Mason-Dixon poll results come as the Governor’s plan, titled Kentucky HEALTH, may be nearing implementation, pending the outcome of legal filings.
Reduction in Coverage
Mason-Dixon Polling & Research talked by telephone with 625 registered Kentucky voters from December 12 to December 15, 2018. The firm asked voters if they felt the Medicaid program in Kentucky should be scaled back to cover fewer people or left as is. Sixty-six percent of voters supported leaving Medicaid as is, while only 25 percent felt it should be scaled back. Nine percent were not sure.
Majorities of registered voters in each region of the state opposed cutting back the number of people covered. Opposition was strongest in the Louisville Metro area at 70 percent and least in Northern Kentucky at 59 percent.
Support also by political affiliation, with 77 percent of Democrats supporting no changes to the program, 53 percent of Republicans, and 64 percent of Independents.
Reduction in Services
The poll also asked voters whether they support or oppose removal of dental and vision coverage for nearly half a million Kentucky adults, instead making them “earn” these services by completing approved activities. Nonemergency medical transportation services would be removed with no provision for regaining them. Sixty-five percent oppose this change.
“This poll tells us that Kentucky voters are opposed to changes that make it harder for Kentuckians to get the healthcare they need,” said Emily Beauregard, executive director of Kentucky Voices for Health. “Voters see this harmful policy for what it is – a step backward in improving Kentuckians’ health.”
Beauregard added, “Medicaid is a hand-up for low-income Kentuckians, not a hand out. When the majority of Medicaid expansion members are already working, serving as caregivers, or students working toward degrees, these additional hurdles do nothing to improve health or economic well being. In fact, it can do the exact opposite.”
“These results are a strong statement. The policy changes being proposed simply do not align with public sentiment or the realities that low-income Kentuckians face,” adds Dr. Sheila Schuster, Executive Director of the Advocacy Action Network.
“The results suggest Kentuckians are concerned not just about themselves but about family, friends, neighbors and co-workers,” said Rich Seckel of Kentucky Equal Justice Center. “People understand that healthcare is a foundation for well-being, education and work.”
Kentucky Equal Justice Center commissioned the two questions on the Governor’s plan for Medicaid. The full survey report on the Medicaid questions and a description of the survey methodology can be found here.