Two-thirds of Kentuckians oppose changes to the state’s Medicaid program that would reduce the individuals covered and benefits offered, according to a survey conducted in December by Mason-Dixon Polling and Research.
The two questions in the survey of 625 Kentuckians referenced the Medicaid waiver plan of Gov. Matt Bevin. The plan would institute work and volunteer requirements and premium payments for many recipients to maintain coverage. It would also drop dental and vision benefits and create a system in which adults can earn them back by completing healthy activities.
The Bevin administration initially estimated that the state’s Medicaid rolls would decrease by 95,000 in the first few years of its implementation.
In Arkansas, 17,000 Medicaid recipients lost their coverage in the last four months of 2018 because they did not meet a similar work requirement.
Health care advocates in Kentucky have criticized the proposed waiver plan as a significant rolling back of Medicaid coverage, which rose after the state expanded Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, but the Bevin administration asserts that its rolls will drop because individuals will gain private insurance.
The poll was commissioned by the Kentucky Equal Justice Center, an opponent of the waiver plan that has sued to stop it. The first question references the waiver plan that will “reduce the number of people who receive benefits,” asking if the Medicaid program in Kentucky should be scaled back or left as it is. Only 25 percent of respondents indicated that Medicaid should be scaled back, while 66 percent said that it should be left alone.
A majority of every regional, gender and age demographic that was polled indicated that the Medicaid system in Kentucky should be left as it is, including even 53 percent of Republicans.
The second question referenced the proposed changes in the waiver to dental and vision benefits, asking if they “support or oppose the Governor’s plan to reduce benefits in this way,” with 28 percent indicating support and 65 percent opposing this change to benefits. As with the first question, a plurality of every demographic opposed Bevin’s plan, with 49 percent of Republicans opposing it and only 39 percent indicating support.
Bevin’s waiver plan was approved by the Trump administration early last year and was set to go into effect in the summer until it was blocked by a federal judge. The administration re-approved the waiver in November, which would go into effect in April unless blocked again in the courts.
Emily Beauregard, the executive director of Kentucky Voices for Health, stated in a press release that the survey results show that “voters see this harmful policy for what it is – a step backward in improving Kentuckians’ health.”
“Medicaid is a hand-up for low-income Kentuckians, not a hand out,” said Beauregard. “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.”
The full memo from Mason-Dixon Polling can be viewed here.