Floridians Should Have Opportunity to Respond to Medicaid Expansion Costs
Author: J. Robert McClure, President & CEO of The James Madison Institute Recently, The James Madison Institute (JMI) worked with Public Insight, a division of Cherry Communications, to conduct a poll of 600 registered Florida voters on the issue of Medicaid expansion.  Some have criticized this poll because they are not happy with the results, others because they felt it is not the role of a think tank to gauge opinions in this way.JMI has been a thought leader in Florida for more than 25 years and I have served as the president and CEO for nearly 10. Throughout my time at JMI, we have striven to continue to redefine what it means to have impact in our state – expanding and enhancing our work to ensure that we don’t just think, we do.The issue of whether to expand government programs is extremely important and many leaders in our state have concerns on both sides of the aisle. When we saw that the only polls being conducted on this issue were not addressing all facets of Medicaid expansion, we felt it necessary to conduct one that did.Two things did not come as a surprise to us in this effort. First, that there would be backlash, and second, that when costs were introduced Floridians thought differently about expanding Medicaid.Claims have been made that this was a “push poll” – too many use that outcry as a go-to reproach – but as we knew, and as confirmed by the American Association for Public Opinion Research’s definition, our poll was not a “push poll.” Others disagree with how we worded our questions; some disagree with how the other polls conducted on this issue worded their questions. Nonetheless, the recent polls on Medicaid expansion, including our poll, were conducted with a random sample of 600 registered voters spanning across all demographics in Florida.JMI released our questions and answers to be transparent and show others the exact results we were seeing. Although we highlighted the certain points in our promotion of the poll, we gave the opportunity for anyone to look over the poll and make his or her own assumptions. However, it is disappointing that the other polls conducted on this issue are not being examined as closely.Efforts to pick apart JMI’s poll were to be expected, and we took a risk in trying a method that isn’t always typical of traditional think tanks. However, we stand by our decision to conduct this research in an effort to accurately gauge the mindset of Floridians on this issue.The fact is the federal government will not be picking up the entire tab when Medicaid is expanded under the new eligibility guidelines; although the total fiscal impact is not known, there will be administrative costs. There will be decreased access to doctors when this program becomes bigger than ever – a concern we expressed from the beginning and one that the Florida Medical Association has been recently highlighting as well. When Medicaid becomes a larger part of the state budget, it will take away taxpayer dollars that could be used for other top priorities. The federal government has underestimated the costs of programs in the past, and if history is any guide, there is a strong possibility it could also back out of its promises to the states in the future.JMI’s publications on the topic of the PPACA address these real problems, and whether one agrees with our positions or not, Floridians have a right to know about all of the costs and benefits of a policy before formulating their own opinions.