Virginians more supportive of Medicaid expansion than ever before, survey shows

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A new statewide survey conducted by the University of Mary Washington shows that more Virginians support Medicaid expansion than ever before.

The survey, based on telephone interviews with 801 Virginia adults, found that 76 percent support expansion, 18 percent oppose it and the remaining 6 percent are uncertain.

The highest approval ratings were in Northern Virginia at 81 percent, and in the Tidewater region at 79 percent. In all five regions of the state, though, support exceeded opposition by a 2 to 1 ratio.

Fifty-eight percent of Republicans favored expansion, compared to 94 percent of Democrats and 75 percent of independents.

The survey was conducted Sept. 4-9 by SSRS, a national research firm, on behalf of the Fredericksburg university.

In 2013, support for Medicaid expansion was only 59 percent, though it increased to 70 percent in September 2017, past Mary Washington surveys showed.

The General Assembly passed Medicaid expansion earlier this year, after Republicans fought former Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s efforts for years.

“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, Mary Washington professor of political science 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.”

Expansion broadens health coverage for those who make up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level, or $16,754 for an individual and $28,677 for a family of three.

Under the old rules — which are still in place until January — a disabled adult cannot make more than $9,700 a year, and a family of three’s income cannot exceed $6,900.