VU Poll Finds Tennesseans Split on Medicaid Expansion

Vanderbilt professor John Geer presents poll findings on Wednesday. Photo credit Blake Farmer/WPLN

Vanderbilt professor John Geer presents poll findings on Wednesday. Photo credit Blake Farmer/WPLN

Tennesseans are equally split over whether to expand the state’s Medicaid program as part of the Affordable Care Act. That’s according to new polling from Vanderbilt University released Wednesday.

The poll was taken over a two-week period that concluded Sunday. A thousand people were asked their opinions on a range of topics, including the Affordable Care Act.

When it comes to the looming question for states over whether to expand Medicaid to cover thousands more people – Vanderbilt political science professor John Geer says the breakdown is about 50/50.

“There are people who want to help cover the poor but at the same time they don’t want to deal with the cost, so they are genuinely conflicted. And you can kind of see some of that.”

Governor Bill Haslam says it will be months before he makes a decision on Medicaid.
Tennessee has already said it will not create it’s own health insurance exchange under Obamacare, but the polling suggests people would have preferred the state to run it. Only a third of respondents said the federal government should be in charge of exchanges.

‘More Purple’ Than ‘Deep Red’

The Vanderbilt polling finds Tennesseans are more pragmatic and less conservative than popular wisdom would suggests. Even respondents identifying with the Tea Party say they prefer working with the opposition to sticking with their priorities.

Democrats had more of a penchant for compromise. But Geer says nearly 60 percent of the most conservative respondents agreed lawmakers should work across the aisle.

“It’s fair to say that Tennesseans are conservative as a collectivity. But they’re much more purple than they are deep red, and I think that’s an important corrective.”

President Obama’s approval rating inched up to 45 percent. Governor Bill Haslam’s popularity increased by 10 points from this time last year, with a 68 percent approval rating statewide. Sixty percent of Democrats say he’s doing a good job.

On the issue of avoiding the fiscal cliff, the Vanderbilt poll found the most popular solution in Tennessee is reducing tax deductions. The least favorite proposal is raising the eligibility age for Medicare.

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