A majority of Missourians support the General Assembly implementing Medicaid expansion, according to a new survey commissioned by the Missouri Hospital Association (MHA).
Opinion research firm American Viewpoint surveyed about 800 Missouri voters in January, asking them questions about the legislature’s responsibilities, COVID-19, and the impacts the expanded program would have on the state. Randall Gutermuth, president of American Viewpoint, said the results showed Missourians backed the program’s implementation regardless of the way they voted on Election Day.
“What we see is very strong support for the implementation of the expansion,” Gutermuth told The Missouri Times. “The most telling point was by what a wide margin it passed in the first place, and now 18 percent of those who actually voted no on Amendment 2 still think the legislature should uphold the will of the voters. That in itself should be telling.”
Of those polled, 88 percent said it was the legislature’s duty to implement the changes approved by the people, with 8 percent saying the opposite. Additionally, 81 percent of those surveyed said it was the legislature’s responsibility to implement the expansion to provide for individuals earning less than $18,000 a month. And 18 percent of those polled who voted against the measure at the polls said the legislature should implement the changes.
Of those surveyed, 86 percent agreed that the COVID-19 pandemic highlighted how critical access to health care was for the state, including rural communities and hospitals. The same question said implementing Medicaid expansion would help rural hospitals remain open and ensure convenient access to medical care for those communities.
On the other side of the issue, 45 percent of those polled said the General Assembly’s obligation to create a balanced budget overrode the new requirements added by the ballot measure, while 38 percent disagreed.
Republicans were split 45 percent to 44 percent on the issue going into the survey, but 56 percent of them voted in favor of the expansion after seeing the full questionnaire.
“There are plenty of issues out there that legislators could lose primaries over, and this isn’t it when you look at the split nature of where people are on implementing the will of the voters,” Gutermuth said.
Missouri voted to become the 38th state to expand its Medicaid program in August. Voters approved its expansion to cover approximately 230,000 residents earning less than $18,000 for a household of one.
The House Budget Committee overwhelmingly voted down a proposed fund for the program last week; a completed budget must be passed by the end of session. House Budget Committee Chairman Rep. Cody Smith said the bill would have cost more than $100 million in general revenue over the next fiscal year.