Louisiana residents like Medicaid expansion but are more skeptical of the Affordable Care Act, a view that pollsters said is not due to a disconnect between the state’s largest medical program and its place as a cornerstone of former President Barack Obama’s signature legislative achievement. That’s according to an LSU poll that asked Louisianians about their views on health care.
The poll, conducted by the Reilly Center for Media & Public Affairs at LSU’s Manship School of Mass Communication, found that nearly three-quarters of Louisiana residents approve of Medicaid expansion. The issue of expanding the Medicaid program to the working poor was a core issue in the 2015 governor’s race after Gov. Bobby Jindal refused to expand Medicaid during his second term.
Gov. John Bel Edwards has frequently touted his decision to expand the program, and has highlighted the vast enrollment that’s occurred since expansion started in July 2016. More than 415,000 of the state’s 3 million residents are now enrolled in the program.
The poll, which surveyed more than 1,000 residents, has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percentage points. It found that Democrats are particularly enthusiastic about Medicaid expansion — 91 percent like the program — and 73 percent of independents do, too. Even Republicans approve of Medicaid expansion by a narrow margin of 51 percent approving and 45 percent disapproving.
But when it comes to the Affordable Care Act, just 42 percent of people approve. And those people don’t have any more of a favorable view of the law when they’re told that the ACA is what allowed Medicaid expansion to take hold in Louisiana.
LSU pollsters experimented with describing the law as Obamacare when referring to Medicaid expansion and found that fewer people approved of Medicaid when it was explained that way.
Even so, pollsters found that the number of people who disapprove of the Affordable Care Act is shrinking. In 2014, 58 percent of people disapproved of the law. In 2017, that number fell to 51 percent. Also, the share of people who approve of the law increased 11 points.
LSU pollsters wrote that “the shift in opinion has been especially pronounced among Democrats and independents,” and Republicans remain staunchly opposed to the law.
“This partisan gap — which is nearly twice as large over the ACA as over Medicaid expansion — is largely a consequence of uneven softening of the opinion of the law over recent years,” LSU pollsters wrote. “Across the state as a whole, opinion toward the ACA has moved in a favorable direction since 2014.”
The poll also broke down approval and disapproval of the Affordable Care Act along racial lines, finding that “most whites have an unfavorable opinion of the ACA, but most blacks and most residents of other races have a favorable opinion of the law.”
People with household incomes below $50,000 are also more likely to approve of the law.
“Unlike in the case of Medicaid expansion, majorities of Republicans and Democrats stand on opposite sides of the ACA: The share of the latter who have a favorable opinion of the law (76 percent) is roughly as large as the share of the former who have an unfavorable opinion (80 percent).