Poll suggests West Virginians dislike key components of Republican health care plans

By RUSTY MARKS

The State Journal

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A recent poll conducted on behalf of the American Medical Association suggests West Virginians are not happy with key components of health care bills passed by the United State House of Representatives and under consideration in the United States Senate.

Republican leaders in the House and Senate have vowed to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act enacted under former President Barack Obama. But the health care bill passed by the House of Representatives and the bill under consideration in the Senate both include massive funding cuts to Medicaid.

The Congressional Budget Office estimates 23 million Americans would lose health insurance under the House plan, while 22 million would lose coverage under the proposed Senate bill.

But according to an American Medical Association poll of 400 West Virginia voters conducted between June 19 and 22, few West Virginians think the bill passed by the House — and similar to the bill being considered in the Senate — is a good idea.

According to the poll results, only 19 percent of those contacted said they thought the provisions of the House health care bill were a good idea, while 42 percent thought the bill was a bad idea. Only 9 percent wanted the House bill passed without changes, while 24 percent wanted minor changes, 25 percent wanted major changes and 25 percent wanted to keep Obamacare.

Researchers conducted the poll by telephone, calling 60 percent of respondents on land lines and 40 percent on cell phones. Margin of error for the poll is plus or minus 4.9 percent.

By comparison, 43 percent of respondents said the Affordable Care Act was a bad idea, but 34 percent said the legislation was a good idea.

The poll found 55 percent of respondents have a favorable view of Medicaid, while 14 percent don’t. According to the poll, 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.

“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. “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,’” Barbe said. “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.”

U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., has said he thinks the proposed Senate health care bill will hurt West Virginians. U.S. Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., came out publicly against the bill on Tuesday, June 27.

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