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Poll: Majority of Mississippi Republican voters support Medicaid expansion 

A majority of Mississippi’s Republican primary voters support expanding Medicaid coverage to the working poor, according to a recent poll commissioned by the American Cancer Society. 

The poll, conducted on February 19-20 by private polling firm Cygnal, surveyed 600 people and showed that 55% of likely GOP primary voters in the Magnolia State support Medicaid expansion to cover low-income individuals. 

“This showed what we’ve been feeling for a while now, which is that just among Republican primary voters, a majority of them support expanding Medicaid to close the coverage gap,” said Kimberly Hughes, the Mississippi government relations director at the American Cancer Society Action Network.

The coverage gap is made up of low-income workers who make more than 28% of the federal poverty level — the maximum income allowed to currently qualify for Medicaid in the state — but less than the 100% of the federal poverty level needed to get subsidies that would make private insurance plans affordable.

It’s estimated that 123,000 uninsured Mississippians would gain coverage under expansion – that includes the 74,000 people under the poverty level and an additional 49,000 uninsured adults whose income is between 100% and 138% of the FPL. 

The Republican-controlled House overwhelmingly passed a bill to expand Medicaid, and its fate now lies with the GOP-majority Senate, which has yet to take a full vote on the issue. Senate Medicaid Chairman Kevin Blackwell, R-Southaven, previously told reporters he plans to introduce a Medicaid expansion plan this week. 

A reason that some senators, particularly those from rural districts, are reluctant to support expansion is a fear that they could attract a GOP primary challenger who would potentially criticize them for voting in favor of the policy. 

But Brent Buchanan, president & founder of Cygnal, said the poll surveyed Republican voters proportionally across the state’s four congressional districts who indicated that there was little opposition to Republicans passing Medicaid expansion legislation.

“Who would be on the other side funding you getting beaten over this? It doesn’t exist,” Buchanan said. “The way I view Medicaid expansion is that no primary voter is waking up thinking about expansion. This is an issue that has a great upside and very limited downside.” 

The ACS poll reflects similar conclusions that several Mississippi Today/Siena College polls showed last year. 

An April poll conducted by the two organizations found that 60% of overall voters including, 52% of Republicans voters, supported the policy, and a June poll of likely GOP primary voters also found 52% of primary voters supported the policy. 

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