CHICAGO — A new poll released by the American Medical Association (AMA) shows that West Virginia voters have a low opinion of the House-passed health system reform bill and are strongly opposed to numerous provisions of the health system reform bill currently being considered by the Senate. The poll also shows strong support for Medicaid and overwhelming opposition to reducing spending on the program — as the House and Senate bills would do.

While the House and Senate bills target the growth of Medicaid, respondents overwhelmingly view the program favorably (55 percent) or neutral (21 percent). Only 14 percent of voters view it unfavorably. Additionally, although both the House and Senate health reform bills would roll back Medicaid expansion and cut Medicaid spending, 38 percent of respondents want to increase Medicaid funding in West Virginia, 42 percent want it to remain unchanged, and only 12 percent want it decreased.

Reflecting the wide range of Americans covered by Medicaid and the large role it plays in insuring the sick, elderly and children, 60 percent of respondents said either they themselves, someone in their household or someone they know is covered by Medicaid.

“If either of the health reform bills in Congress were to become law, not only would millions of Americans lose their insurance coverage, but millions more would have higher — perhaps unaffordable — deductibles and copayments that will discourage them from seeking the care they need,” said AMA President David O. Barbe, M.D. “This poll of West Virginians shows that the proposed Medicaid cuts hit home, and imperil access to care. Both the Senate and House bills as currently drafted violate the important principle ‘first, do no harm.’ It is clear that changes are needed to our health system and that a bipartisan approach is necessary to achieve those results. West Virginia voters agree that the proposals currently before Congress are a massive step in the wrong direction.”

Below are additional findings regarding provisions of health system reform proposals:

  • Respondents overwhelmingly support (84 percent) allowing insurance to be bought across state lines;
  • Respondents are divided on eliminating the ACA requirement that all health plans sold must provide a standard set of government-established benefits, including mental health services, addiction treatment, maternity care, and that provides preventive health services with no out-of-pocket costs. The poll shows that 45 percent support it, and 46 percent oppose it;
  • West Virginians strongly oppose (60 percent to 32 percent) a change to the ACA that would allow insurance companies to charge consumers higher rates if they have pre-existing conditions and allowed their coverage to lapse.

The poll shows 34 percent of respondents believe the ACA is a good idea, while 43 percent believe it is a bad idea, and 19 percent do not have an opinion. In contrast, 42 percent of voters think the House bill is a bad idea, only 19 percent say it’s a good idea, and 30 percent do not have an opinion. Only 9 percent of respondents favor the Senate passing the House-passed version without changes, while 25 percent want the Senate to make major changes to the House bill before passing, and another 25 percent thinks the Senate should not pass any part of the House legislation.

Yesterday, the AMA expressed its opposition to the Senate’s proposed health care bill based on its health system reform objectives — primary among them that people who currently have insurance, including Medicaid coverage, should not become uninsured.

Voter/Consumer Research conducted the statewide telephone survey of 400 registered voters. The survey was conducted June 19-22, and has a margin of error of +4.9 percent. Complete interview schedules are available here.

Media Contact:

AMA Media & Editorial

ph: (312) 464-4430

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About the American Medical Association

The American Medical Association is the physicians’ powerful ally in patient care. As the only medical association that convenes 190+ state and specialty medical societies and other critical stakeholders, the AMA represents physicians with a unified voice to all key players in health care.  The AMA leverages its strength by removing the obstacles that interfere with patient care, leading the charge to prevent chronic disease and confront public health crises and, driving the future of medicine to tackle the biggest challenges in health care.

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