Rural voters key in Medicaid debate

By

Opinion

April 8, 2019 - 9:34 AM

The key to passing Medicaid expansion may not necessarily be our polarized legislature, but voters themselves, especially in small town and rural Kansas. But how much do average Kansans honestly care about expansion, and how much do they prioritize what their communities might gain from it? Maybe less than you think, which might help explain why Topeka is gridlocked on this issue.

Most polling over time shows that Kansans support expansion. For example, the fall 2017 Kansas Speaks survey showed that Kansans supported “expanding Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act” 69 percent to 30 percent-typical numbers in Kansas polls. The exception is one recent poll from a conservative organization that produced 54 percent opposition after crafting their survey questions to make expansion look unattractive.

Unfortunately, no public poll of Kansans has asked how much they actually care about expansion or prioritize it versus other issues. The gut sentiment of most Kansans may be to support expansion, but we do not know the strength of those opinions, or how persuadable they are to opposing expansion. Big unknowns.

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