Poll: Expand Medicaid in S.C.

Most South Carolina adults interviewed for a new poll think the state government should expand Medicaid eligibility to include more low-income residents.

Most South Carolina adults interviewed for a new poll think the state government should expand Medicaid eligibility to include more low-income residents.

The poll was commissioned by AARP, a group in favor of expanding Medicaid in South Carolina under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. A statement about the poll was published Tuesday on AARP’s website, but the full results have not been released.

It found that 54 percent of 800 adults polled in February favor Medicaid expansion and 57 percent disagree with Gov. Nikki Haley’s decision to decline federal money to accomplish that. All of the adults included in the survey were 45 and older.

South Carolina has a choice to opt out of the expansion because the state would eventually need to pay for part of it — 10 percent of the costs by 2020. The federal government would fully fund Medicaid expansion for three years and at a minimum of 90 percent after that.

“The federal government likes to wave around a $9 match like it is some silver bullet, some extraordinary benefit that we cannot pass up. But what good do the nine dollars do us when we can’t come up with the one?” Haley said in January during her State of the State address.

Republican lawmakers in Columbia are following the governor’s lead.

The House of Representatives’ budget writing committee passed a proposal in February that would infuse millions of state and federal dollars into programs designed to make South Carolinians healthier — without expanding Medicaid.

Forty-three percent of the adults polled by AARP identified themselves as conservative voters; 31 percent were moderate; 8 percent were liberal and 19 percent identified as “other.”

Responding to a question about Medicaid expansion posed on postandcourier.com, Facebook users are split on the issue.

Dustin Ryan wrote, “Who is going to pay for it? The federal government is broke and our state is in debt.”

Anita McGlothlin Gibson wrote she is “absolutely” in favor of expansion.

“It is a crying shame that people who have worked for years and years have suddenly found themselves without jobs or insurance and are now having to survive through this means,” she wrote.

More than 20 states, some with Republican governors, have decided to participate in the expansion, but Alex Stroman, executive director of the S.C. Republican Party, said Haley and state leaders will decide what is best for South Carolina residents.

“The governor is leading on this,” Stroman said. “The members of the General Assembly are also making sure we are addressing the real issue.”

Reach Lauren Sausser at 937-5598.