By a margin of 24 percent, Tennesseans surveyed earlier this month said Tennessee should expand its Medicaid program to reduce the number of uninsured individuals in the state, officials said.
At a news conference Tuesday, the Tennessee Hospital Association released findings of a statewide survey of insured registered voters. The findings show 59 percent believe Tennessee should accept the federal dollars for expanding Medicaid coverage in the state. Conversely, 35 percent feel the state should not expand the program. Such expansion would be made possible through the Affordable Care Act, officials said.
The survey was commissioned by THA, funded by the American Hospital Association and was conducted by Alexandria, VA-based Public Opinion Strategies. The poll shows "a majority of registered voters in every age group 18 and older who were surveyed believe the state should accept the funds and help offset more than $5.6 billion in ACA Medicare cuts facing Tennessee hospitals." Tennessee would join more than 20 states which have already opted-in to expand Medicaid under the ACA.
“The mandate is clear and decisive,” said THA President Craig A. Becker in making the announcement on the stage of Tennessee’s War Memorial Auditorium Tuesday. “Tennesseans believe accepting the funds and expanding the Medicaid population in the state would mean critical resources for our rural hospitals that are financially struggling and will be crippled by the cuts that already are law.”
The survey sample of 600 registered voters with health coverage that included an oversample of rural voters was made up of 45 percent Republican voters, 37 percent Democratic voters and 14 percent Independents.
The telephone poll asked respondents to agree or disagree with a number of arguments raised in public debate on the issue and found:
· 67 percent believed accepting the funds would mean critical money for Tennessee hospitals that are financially struggling today.
· 62 percent believed the federal government would meet its commitment to pay 100 percent of the cost for the first three years and 90 percent or more in subsequent years.
· 59 percent agreed it is a good deal for Tennessee taxpayers when the federal government would pay nine dollars for every dollar the state spends to expand needed health coverage.
· 55 percent agreed the state’s acceptance of the funds would help control the cost that people with private health insurance pay for health care as hospitals now would be paid for the care they are providing free to the eligible population.
· 65 percent concurred that since most other states are accepting the federal government’s funds, the state should make sure Tennessee’s hardworking taxpayers see their money being spent here to provide health coverage and strengthen community hospitals rather than having their tax dollars spent in other states that have opted into the plan.
The study had a statistical confidence level of 95 percent with a margin of error slightly less than plus or minus five percent.
Public Opinion Strategies specializes in corporate and public policy research and has completed more than 14,000 research projects over the past 22 years interviewing more than six million Americans in all 50 states. The firm has completed 293 research projects in Tennessee and has experience on healthcare issues having worked with the American Hospital Association since 1996.
Tennessee Hospital Association promotes and represents the interests of health careers, hospitals and health systems. Established in 1938 as a not-for-profit membership association, THA serves as an advocate for hospitals, health systems and other healthcare organizations and the patients they serve. It also provides education and information for its members, and informs the public about hospitals and healthcare issues at the state and national levels. Additional information is available at www.tha.com.