Poll: Virginians strongly support Medicaid expansion

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Photo Credit: Peshkova

The results of a recent statewide public opinion poll show that 71 percent of Virginians continue to strongly support Medicaid expansion in the Commonwealth.

More than 300,000 people have gained coverage under a bipartisan expansion plan state lawmakers approved in 2018 to extend care to thousands of low-income Virginia adults.

The poll, conducted by Mason-Dixon Polling & Strategy, is the latest in a series of public opinion surveys commissioned by the Virginia Hospital & Healthcare Association to help identify health care issues of concern to Virginians and to inform the Association’s approach to developing corresponding public policy solutions.

On the subject of coverage expansion, the poll also found that more than three-fourths of Virginians (78 percent) are not aware that Virginia hospitals are the only health care sector partner making financial contributions to the state (totaling roughly $300 million each year) to cover the state’s share of Medicaid expansion costs. In all, 80 percent of Virginians said it isn’t fair that only hospitals are contributing to fund Medicaid expansion when many others in the health care sector – including physicians, pharmaceutical companies, insurers, and medical equipment makers – benefit from coverage expansion. And 72 percent of people say physicians, insurers, and drug companies, among others, should also make financial contributions to the state in support of coverage expansion.

Other key poll findings include:

  • Virginians continue to view community hospitals favorably, with 81 percent of Virginians holding a positive impression of hospitals, and 87 percent of people saying they have had a positive experience with the hospital system in Virginia when they or a family member received care as a patient.
  • When asked about the prospect of deregulating Virginia’s certificate of public need (COPN) program, 70 percent expressed support for the current system with COPN.
  • Overall, 55 percent say COPN should remain in place in Virginia, compared to just 13 percent who favor its elimination.
  • On the issue of unexpected medical bills arising from an emergency situation when treatment is rendered by an out-of-network provider, a majority of Virginians (51 percent) believe insurance companies should be held financially responsible for paying the balance.

In addition to those topics, the survey measured public opinion on a wide range of health care issues including concerns about rising insurance premiums and deductibles, prescription drug prices, health care billing, price shopping, and price transparency, among other subjects.

“Ensuring that Virginians have access to high-quality, high-value health care in every corner of the Commonwealth is a primary mission for the Virginia hospital community,” said VHHA President and CEO Sean T. Connaughton. “That’s why Virginia hospitals agreed to cover the state’s cost for Medicaid expansion by investing millions of dollars each year to defray that expense. It’s why we continue to educate the public about the importance of COPN in promoting health care access and affordability. And it’s why the hospital community worked with physicians and consumer advocates in 2019 on bipartisan legislation to address emergency balance billing in a way that protects patients. That patient-centric mission also extends to efforts to inform the public about health care issues, including the posting of cost information on the Virginia PricePoint website VHHA has maintained since 2006. Receiving feedback on health care issues of concern to Virginians through public opinion research is another way the hospital community is keeping its focus on what matters most: patients.”

The poll of 800 Virginia voters was conducted June 11-17 and featured live landline and cell phone interviews with Virginians from all regions of the Commonwealth representing a wide array of ethnic, gender, age, and political diversity reflecting the distinctive demographics of this state.

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