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AARP uses poll to leverage opposition to Medicaid bill

An issue-advocacy poll from the AARP shows that more than half of North Carolina voters want the state to accept the new money from the federal government to cover an expansion of Medicaid to low-income residents.

AARP commissioned the survey for obvious reasons: it's one of the leading groups fighting a Senate bill that would prevent the state from expanding Medicaid coverage to as many as 648,000 residents and block the health insurance exchanges under the federal health care law.

But the poll -- conducted by Public Policy Polling, a Democratic firm -- is a signal as to how far the group is willing to push the issue and arms critics with message-tested lines.

In any issue advocacy poll it's important to look at the questions -- which can often be slanted toward one side or the other. The automated phone survey was conducted Feb. 1-3 and has a margin of error of 4 percentage points.

Here's the questions from the poll and the results.

Question 1: I’d like to ask you about an issue currently being debated in the NC General Assembly. Under the new federal health care law, 500,000 people in North Carolina who are uninsured right now could get health care coverage through Medicaid starting in 2014. The governor and state elected officials can choose to accept federal dollars that have been allocated to cover these individuals in North Carolina, or to turn the money down and not cover them. The federal dollars cover 100 percent of the costs in the first three years, and at least 90 percent of the costs after that. Having heard this, do you think North Carolina should accept federal funds to allow more North Carolinians to get health care, or not?

NC should accept federal funds ...........55%

NC should not accept funds ................35%

Not sure ..................10%

Question 2: Those who support accepting federal funds say we can cover more people in North Carolina and save taxpayer dollars that are currently spent on treating uninsured people in emergency rooms. Covering more people gives hard-working families the security of knowing they can get preventative care and see a doctor when they need to....Those who oppose accepting federal funds say North Carolina will eventually have to pay 10 percent of the costs of covering these people, and even
more if the federal government fails to follow through on its promises..... Having heard this, I’ll ask again: do you think North Carolina should accept federal funds to allow more North Carolinians to get health care, or not?

NC should accept funds .................................. 58%

NC should not accept funds ..................................35%

Not sure .................................. 8%

Question 3: Tens of thousands of people in North Carolina have been laid off or work at low-wage jobs
that don't provide health insurance. Some say that we need a safety net like Medicaid for when things happen that are out of people's control. Expanding Medicaid will help those facing tough times, especially 50- to 64-year olds who've lost jobs, can't find new ones and are struggling but don't qualify for Medicaid
because they don't have young children. Having heard this, do you strongly support, somewhat support, somewhat oppose, or strongly oppose expanding North Carolina’s Medicaid program?

Strongly support ..................................38%

Somewhat support ..................................24%

Somewhat oppose .................................. 14%

Strongly oppose .................................. 19%

Not sure .................................. 6%


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