April 23, 2014

Consultants tell GOP legislative leaders public wants Medicaid expansion (AUDIO)

A survey run by pollsters often used by Republicans suggest GOP legislative leaders are running against the public tide in  opposing Governor Nixon’s proposal to expand the Medicaid program. The survey by American Viewpoint says the Governor’s approval rating is much higher than the ratings for Republicans in the legislature.  And it says 47% of voters favor Medicaid expansion outright and 56%t endorse it after learning more about its economic and health aspects. 

It warns that swing voters might find Republicans less attractive as candidates if the legislature does not go along with the governor’s push for expansion of the program.  In a memo to Republican legislative caucuses, two officials with American Viewpoint  say, “There are fights to be had with the governor, but this shouldn’t be one of them.”   They note the Governor’s favorable rating from the public (61% approve, 21% disapprove) is significantly better than the public perception of Republicans in the legislature (43-43%, evenly divided on the approval/disapproval ratings).

The survey, commissioned by the Missouri Hospital Association, also shows almost one-fourth of Missouri voters have been uninsured at some time in the last five years and 57% of those voters favor the expansion with the number climbing to 65% when they learn more about it. And it says 57% of those with insurance know somebody who is insured, with more than half of those voters favoring expansion, with the figure going up to 61% after getting more information.  “These voters don’t just see the uninsured as welfare recipients, but rather as their neighbors,”  say consultants David Barklage and Randall Gutermuth.

Senate leader Tom Dempsey’s position remains unchanged, though. “I was opposed last year, opposed throughout the year, was opposed in November, was opposed in January, am opposed today,” he says.

Gutermuth and Barklage say Republicans should not let governor Nixon blame them for failure to expand the program. Instead, they say, Republicans should “take ownership” of the issue and make real reforms to Medicaid.  “The argument that this proposal will hurt GOP legislators with their base is extremely overstated,” they say. 

AUDIO: Dempsey interview 4:09