Do Virginians expect much, if anything, out of Medicaid special session?

healthcareThree out of four Virginia voters are actually paying attention to the debate over Medicaid expansion in Virginia that will pick back up again this week with a special session of the Virginia General Assembly.

Not that we expect much to come from the continued debate on healthcare proposals.

“The bar is pretty low,” said Dr. Quentin Kidd, director of the Wason Center for Public Policy, which conducted a recent poll of Virginians on the Medicaid expansion issue. “The General Assembly could come out of this special session having accomplished nothing on Medicaid, and they wouldn’t defy the expectations of many voters.”

Fifty-four percent of those surveyed report being pessimistic that Republicans and Democrats will come to some agreement during the special session, according to the poll, which was released Wednesday. But the division among political leaders on what the next step should be to deal with Medicaid is also reflected in the poll numbers, with 61 percent of those surveyed supporting the idea of expanding Medicaid to cover an additional 400,000 low-income Virginia residents, but 48 percent expressing related concerns that the federal government will not pay its part if the state were to expand coverage.

Virginia voters continue to be pulled in two directions,” said Kidd. “Most support the general idea of Medicaid expansion, but many are worried by concerns expressed by opponents as well.”

Of note is that those numbers are skewing in slightly different directions since a February Christopher Newport University poll that registered 56 percent support among the population for Medicaid expansion and concerns from 54 percent of the population that the federal government would not pay its share.

The poll also measured support for Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s plan to expand healthcare services to more than 200,000 Virginians that focuses on children, veterans and mental illness at 58 percent, while a plurality of 49 percent support a proposal from Herndon Republican Del. Tom Rust to use Virginia tax dollars paid into the Affordable Care Act to help working Virginians with incomes below the poverty line to pay their share of employer-provided health insurance.

– Column by Chris Graham

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