Informed voters don’t support Healthy Utah, according to a new poll.
The poll results will provide ammo to opponents of the Medicaid expansion, further complicating Governor Gary Herbert‘s efforts to find a compromise with conservative legislators to cover uninsured Utahns.
The poll, released today and embedded below, shows less than fifty percent of informed voters support Healthy Utah when given information about the impact of the law on the federal debt.
The poll was conducted by Wilson Perkins Allen on behalf of Republican consultant Chuck Warren’s Silver Bullet. Warren has also been retained by Jonathan Johnson, who is expected to challenge Herbert for Utah governor in 2016.
After hearing the information, the poll shows a diminishing level of support for Healthy Utah as surveyed individuals learn more. Healthy Utah showed initial support level of 56% for Healthy Utah, consistent with polls run without educating respondents. Support fell to only 47% once the financial effects of Healthy Utah on the federal budget were described.
Opposition to Healthy Utah rose from only 28% to 40% once the effects of the policy were described. Support for Healthy Utah was highest among liberals (89%) and Democrats (74%) and lowest among conservatives (41%) and Republicans (38%).
The poll comes in the wake of the failure of Healthy Utah to pass during 2015 Utah Legislative Session, despite heavy pressure from Herbert and late session shenanigans from House Democrats to get Republicans on record voting against the proposal. Healthy Utah is expected to be the subject of a special session this summer.
This is the first poll on the Healthy Utah to show diminishing levels of support as respondents learn more about the fiscal implications of the Medicaid expansion policy.
The poll could spell out a major issue in the upcoming race for Utah governor, though presumptive Utah Johnson has been largely silent on the issue. Herbert has argued that accepting federal dollars will bring back money already leaving the state to fund the law and help Utah’s most vulnerable citizens.
Speaker Greg Hughes and Majority Leader Jim Dunnigan have been among the most vocal critics of Healthy Utah. The proposal didn’t make it to the House floor after it failed to receive support from either the House Majority Caucus or to survive a committee hearing. An alternative, Dunnigan’s Utah Cares bill, was passed out of committee and was passed by the House to provide a compromise solution to covering Utah’s uninsured, individuals missed by the federal government’s Affordable Care Act. After Utah Cares passed in the House it failed to get a hearing in the Senate (which had earlier passed Healthy Utah). A Democratic effort to get Healthy Utah on the House floor by substituting it for Utah Cares failed.
Confused yet? So are voters. With all the heavy messaging around the issue, it’s hardly a surprise that a compromise has been difficult to find for Utah leaders.
During the session, voters in Dunnigan’s district received a mailer slamming him for opposing Healthy Utah in favor of a Utah funded solution to covering uninsured Utahns. Funded by the left leaning Alliance for a Better Utah, the mailer is often blamed for why a compromise could not be found during the legislative session.