New poll: Support for Medicaid expansion is high among Arkansans

A new survey sponsored by the Arkansas Hospital Association and conducted by Opinion Research Associates, an Arkansas-based independent market research company, shows that a large majority of Arkansans agree that the state’s Medicaid program should be expanded to cover individuals and families having incomes up to 138 percent of the Federal Poverty Level.

Ninety percent of respondents agree that there is a moral obligation to take care of those in need and 70 percent said that they support expanding Medicaid.

The survey of 602 Arkansas registered voters, conducted February 5-21, 2013, has a 95 percent confidence level (4.1 percent margin of error). Its findings show:

• 65 percent said the state should accept the money to expand Medicaid under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

• 65 percent believe that not participating in Medicaid expansion would mean that Arkansas’ share of federal money will be used to expand the program in other states which do expand their programs.

• 66 percent expressed support for expansion because states that expand Medicaid generally will see less pressure for insurance rate increases related to the cost-shifting which occurs when insurers must pay more to make up for those who can’t pay their bills.

• 70 percent said they are likely to support Medicaid expansion as a way to keep hospitals, especially those in rural or less populated areas of the state, from closing. • 70 percent said they are more likely to support expansion knowing that if their hospital closed, the loss of jobs would have a devastating effect on the local economy.

Hospitals support the Medicaid expansion because more people would have insurance and a source of payment for the services they receive.