JACKSON, Miss - Mississippians are clearly moving past the toxic politics that have dominated the healthcare debate for years. By a 20% margin, Mississippi voters favor expanding Medicaid to provide coverage to nearly 300,000 low-income adults. Even when informed that Mississippi taxpayers would pay up to 10% of the costs, 58% of voters supported expanding Medicaid while 38% opposed.
"Mississippi voters strongly support moving beyond the status quo," said Roy Mitchell, Executive Director of the Mississippi Health Advocacy Program.
It may be a surprise to some pundits and politicians, but with 33% of Mississippi's rural hospitals in danger of closing it shouldn't be shocking that Mississippians know the status quo is untenable.
"Voters have family members struggling to afford healthcare. They know someone who has lost a job or pension because so many hospitals are laying off employees and even closing doors. Mississippians have had enough of the politics and want solutions," said Mitchell.
Mason-Dixon Polling & Research talked with 625 registered Mississippi voters in late April. Mason-Dixon asked voters to consider the financial cost of Medicaid expansion to the state (Mississippi will pay up to a 10% share for expanding coverage) and the financial benefit to Mississippi (the federal government will provide the state with $8.7 billion dollars through 2020). Considering those facts, 58% of voters supported Medicaid expansion while only 38% opposed.
"Across the board, a majority of Mississippi voters support a variety of options to expand Medicaid coverage to low income residents," said J. Bradford Coker, Managing Director of Mason-Dixon Polling & Research.
"These results show that despite all of the politics, Mississippians know a good deal. Medicaid expansion is true bargain for Mississippi. Especially when you consider how much maintaining the status quo is costing Mississippi," said Mitchell.
Continuing the status quo means more Mississippi hospitals struggling to stay afloat. It means more and more hospitals, with millions in uncompensated debt, ending up like Singing River.
All of this is happening while hospitals in expansion states are seeing dramatic drops in charity care. It's very simple. In states that expand Medicaid, there are more paying customers and greater revenue for hospitals, providers, and doctors. In states like Mississippi, the working poor are forced to seek emergency room care and the hospitals are left with the bill.
Refusing the federal funding is costing hospital jobs on the Gulf Coast, Natchez, Kosciusko, McComb, Tupelo and in many of Mississippi's small towns. Most importantly, it's causing unnecessary suffering for families who can't access health care because of the costs.
Statewide, the survey found that:
- 54% support an expansion to cover those who make less than $15,420.
- 58% support accepting $8.7 billion in federal assistance in exchange for a maximum state investment of $40 million.
- 56% support accepting federal funding rather than have the money go to other states.
- 56% support giving federal money to low assistance residents to purchase their own private insurance.
About the Poll
This poll was conducted by Mason-Dixon Polling & Research, Inc. of Jacksonville, Florida from April 21 through April 23, 2015. A total of 625 registered Mississippi voters were interviewed statewide by telephone. Those interviewed on land-lines were selected by the random variation of the last four digits of telephone numbers. A cross-section of exchanges was utilized in order to ensure an accurate reflection of the state. Those interviewed on cell phones were selected from a list of working cell phone numbers. Quotas were assigned to reflect voter registration by county. The margin for error, according to standards customarily used by statisticians, is no more than ±4 percentage points. This means that there is a 95 percent probability that the "true" figure would fall within that range if all voters were surveyed. The margin for error is higher for any subgroup, such as a gender or racial grouping.
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