Senior Policy Analyst
There’s a big reason to question the accuracy of a new poll of Virginians from Christopher Newport University, which the Washington Post and other news outlets have highlighted, that purports to find significantly less enthusiasm for expanding Medicaid as part of health reform. Here’s what policymakers and media should keep in mind.
The pollsters say they found that Virginians’ support for expansion dropped from 56 percent on February 3 to 41 percent now. What the pollsters do not fully acknowledge, however, is that they asked the question in two markedly different ways, making this a highly misleading, apples-to-oranges finding that doesn’t necessarily show a shift in public opinion:
Thus, unlike in February, Virginians in the most recent poll were asked whether the state should expand Medicaid only after they were read the straw man argument that the federal government will renege on its commitment to fund nearly all the costs of the expansion. As we have explained, the history of Medicaid’s financing shows that federal funding has remained remarkably steady for decades.
Virginia policymakers should not be swayed by a misleading poll when deciding whether to expand Medicaid. They should instead keep in mind that the state’s own analysis found that expanding will save the state more than $1 billion through 2022. For the state, and the 400,000 uninsured Virginians who stand to gain health coverage from the expansion, the expansion remains an incredibly good deal.