While Gov. Steve Beshear decides whether to expand Medicaid to roughly 300,000 Kentuckians under the Affordable Care Act — and Republicans in the General Assembly are scheming to block his power to do so — a new poll released by the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network shows an overwhelming majority of Kentuckians favor the expansion.
According to the poll, 63 percent of Kentuckians favor the expansion, while only 23 percent oppose it. After listening to arguments from both sides of the issue, respondents to the poll still favored expansion by a wide margin, 60 to 30 percent.
The poll showed that a plurality of each different demographic — gender, region, party affiliation, race, age, income, insured or uninsured — supported expansion.
Under the Affordable Care Act, states can decide whether to expand Medicaid coverage to all persons up to 133 percent of the poverty rate, with the federal government covering all of the cost for those newly eligible people. The state’s share of the tab would slowly increase to 10 percent by 2020.
While Republicans in the General Assembly hope to pass a Senate bill which requires the body to approve such an expansion, it appears to have virtually no chance of making its way out of the House. Beshear is still making up his mind, but even very conservative governors such as Jan Brewer of Arizona have approved the Medicaid expansion, citing the money that will be saved by decreasing the amount of uncompensated care at hospitals.
A report from last year showed that Kentucky would actually save somewhere between $140 million to $828 million if it chose to expand Medicaid.