Several months after Virginia lawmakers decided to expand Medicaid, public support for the public health-care expansion has now reached its highest level, according to a new University of Mary Washington statewide survey.
The survey, conducted September 4-9 for UMW by the national research firm SSRS, found that 76 percent of Virginians support Medicaid expansion and 18 percent oppose the policy shift, with the remainder uncertain.
In five previous statewide UMW surveys, support for the expansion idea has ranged from 59 percent in September 2013 to 70 percent in September 2017.
“While public support for Medicaid expansion has been strong for years, the latest Mary Washington survey demonstrates that Virginia Republicans were wise to remove this issue from the policy agenda,” said Stephen J. Farnsworth, professor of political science at the University of Mary Washington and director of its Center for Leadership and Media Studies. “When public opinion varies from party preferences, the smart political move is to compromise and change the subject.”
Republicans in the House of Delegates had blocked Medicaid expansion for several years due to concerns over its long-term costs, but the loss of 15 GOP-held seats in the 2017 elections created a 51-49 Republican House majority that worked with the Senate of Virginia and Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam to pass a Medicaid expansion bill earlier this year.
The terms of all members of the House of Delegates and the Senate of Virginia expire in 2019.
Public support for Medicaid expansion exceeded a two-to-one ratio in all five regions of the state, with the highest approval rates found in Northern Virginia (81 percent) and the Tidewater region (79 percent).
Among Republicans, 58 percent favored Medicaid expansion, as compared to 94 percent of Democrats and 75 percent of independents.
A majority (55 percent) of respondents who said they approved of President Trump’s job performance favored Medicaid expansion in Virginia, as did 89 percent of Virginians in the survey who said they opposed Trump. (Trump opponents outnumbered supporters in the survey by a 58 percent to 37 percent margin, with the rest uncertain.)
Voters 55 years of age and older were less supportive of Medicaid expansion than were younger voters. But even among senior citizens and those close to it, support for Medicaid expansion exceeded a two-to-one margin.
Support among white non-Latino respondents for Medicaid expansion stood at 70 percent, as compared to 94 percent of African Americans and 78 percent of Latinos.
The University of Mary Washington’s Virginia Survey Fall 2018 obtained telephone interviews with a representative sample of 801 adults, ages 18 or older, living in Virginia. Telephone interviews were conducted by landline (281) and cell phone (520). The survey was conducted by SSRS. Interviews were done in English from September 4 to 9, 2018. Statistical results are weighted to correct known demographic discrepancies. The margin of sampling error for the complete set of weighted data is ± 4.6 percentage points. For results based on registered voters [N=704], the margin of sampling error is ±5.0 percentage points. For results based on likely voters [N=512], the margin of sampling error is ±5.8 percentage points.
For the full survey online, see Topline.