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Study Shows Most Louisiana Citizens Want Medicaid Expansion, Remain Divided on Obamacare

The Louisiana Legislature began its 2017 session at noon on Monday (4.10). Over the next 60 days, state lawmakers will consider a number of issues that affects its constituents, from reforms to the state budget and criminal justice system to the public’s needs and concerns for social healthcare. On Tuesday, results from the latest installment of the 2017 Louisiana Survey were released, revealing that the majority of the state’s residents favor the expansion of certain social healthcare programs but are divided about healthcare reforms like the Affordable Healthcare Act — findings that may impact the discussions during the next two months of legislative reforms. 


Governor John Bel Edwards kicked off the 168th legislative session with an address of his 2017 legislative agenda. He began his speech by noting the hardships that the state has endured over the last years, and underscoring the resiliency of its residents. "Time and time again, we have proven that there is no challenge too great for us to overcome," the Governor said. "The heart of Louisiana is its people." The first issue that Edwards addressed with the importance of Medicaid expansion. In just four years, the percentage of uninsured Louisiana residents has dropped nearly 43 percent— from 22 percent to 12.6 percent — one of the greatest in the country. 


According to the results of the 2017 Louisiana Survey released Tuesday (4.11) by LSU’s Manship School of Mass Communications, approximately three-fourths (72 percent) of state residents are in favor of Medicaid expansion. When examined across political parties, the survey illustrated a less cohesive image of the state. 91 percent of Democrats and 73 percent of Independents approve of Medicaid expansion, while just 51 percent of Republicans are in favor of the expansion. 


Louisiana residents were more divided when it came to the issue surrounding the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare). According to the survey, just 42 percent of Louisiana residents have a positive view of the federal healthcare act, with over half of the state’s adult population (51 percent) viewing the ACA in a negative way. 


The issue of the Affordable Care Act is one that heavily divides along political lines. At Monday’s 2017 legislative session, Republican Representative Paul Hollis pre-filed four pieces of legislation, with each item meant to "reflect our values and meet the needs of those I am honored to represent," he said in a statement. One of Hollis’s legislative pieces would exempt state residents from the individual mandate penalty in the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare). This is a highly contentious issue in the months following Obama leaving the White House, with President Trump signing an executive order shortly after taking office that minimized the economic impact of Obamacare. 


As the support from Trump and Hollis indicates, the Republican party has major misgivings about the continued existence of Obamacare. In Louisiana, 80 percent of Republicans have an unfavorable opinion of the ACA, reported the LSU Manship School’s team of researchers. On the other hand, 76 percent of Democrats have a positive opinion of the federal healthcare act. 


The survey concluded that despite this discord, the overall public opinion on the ACA is improving. The share of respondents with a negative view of the ACA is 7 percentage points lower than in 2014, with a positive view 11 percentage points higher than three years ago. The shift in opinion, the survey noted, was most clear among Democrats and Independents. 

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