Gov. Nathan Deal's refusal to expand Medicaid under Obamacare cuts both ways, an AJC poll released this weekend shows.
Clearly, Obamacare remains at the top of minds of voters. The poll shows that an overwhelming majority – 86 percent – views a candidate’s stance on the healthcare law as at least very important. And some 61 percent of voters believe it needs major modifications or should be scrapped altogether.
But there’s a soft spot in many Georgians’ heart for the expansion of Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, which would have provided as many as 650,000 low-income residents with health coverage thanks mostly to federal funding. Deal said he rejected the expansion because it would be too costly in the long run.
Only 13 percent of GOP voters said Deal’s hard-line stance made them more inclined to vote for the governor (most of those were Republicans presumably likely to vote for him regardless) but the more interesting number is on the other side of the ledger.
Some 40 percent of voters said it made them less likely to cast a ballot for the governor, including 42 percent of voters who identified themselves as independents. These typically right-leaning voters are crucial for Democrat Jason Carter’s campaign.
Deal said in January he sees any push for Medicaid expansion as an “intrusion into our rights as a state." But as he keeps one eye on November, Obamacare hasn’t surfaced as it has in the GOP Senate primary, where the candidates’ efforts to outdo each other in their opposition had Republican strategist Eric Tanenblatt openly worrying it was “gimmicky.”
One final figure worth noting. When asked about whether Obamacare has helped or hurt voters and their families, a scant 16 percent said it had helped and 30 percent said it had hurt. But the leading answer, at 53 percent, was from voters who said it had no effect. Most of those respondents were Republicans.