Medicaid Turns Out To Be a Pretty Popular Program

| Tue Jul. 31, 2012 5:27 PM PDT

The latest Kaiser Health Tracking Poll is out, and it contains a couple of interesting tidbits. The first is that the Supreme Court's Obamacare ruling apparently had a substantial effect on public opinion. In the previous 18 months, support for keeping or expanding the law had been comfortably higher than support for repealing the law, by roughly 50%-40%. But in July, after the ruling, support for the law dropped dramatically, now slightly trailing repeal by 46%-45%.

But the finding on the right surprised me more. More than half the respondents said that Medicaid was important to them or their family. That suggests a much higher level of support for Medicaid than I would have expected. And this isn't just among the poor, either. The importance of Medicaid is obviously higher among those with lower incomes, but even among those with incomes over $90,000, a full 36% say Medicaid is important to them or their family.1

As you'd expect, this means that support for expanding Medicaid is pretty strong too: 67% of respondents support Obamacare's expansion of Medicaid. That includes even 39% of Republicans.

There are some caveats and nuances to these numbers, and you can read the entire survey here. Overall, though, it looks like Medicaid is more popular than I thought.

1For well-off families, this is most likely due to Medicaid's payments for long-term and nursing care for the elderly. In the Kaiser poll, 49% of the respondents said this was one of the reasons Medicaid was important to them.

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