Tennessee Poll Shows Support for Medicaid Expansion, Limited Restrictions on Abortion

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Tennessee Poll Shows Support for Medicaid Expansion, Limited Restrictions on Abortion

Teddy Wilson

The majority of Tennesseans support Medicaid expansion through the Affordable Care Act (ACA), limited restrictions on abortion, and marriage equality, according to a public opinion survey released Wednesday.

The majority of Tennesseans support Medicaid expansion through the Affordable Care Act (ACA), limited restrictions on abortion, and marriage equality, according to a public opinion survey released Wednesday.

The Center for the Study of Democratic Institutions at Vanderbilt University conducted the poll from November 10 through November 20.

The poll is conducted twice a year, both before upcoming legislative sessions and after the sessions have concluded. The results are intended to show how closely state lawmakers align with voters’ expectations and priorities.

The latest survey asked residents questions about abortion policy, Common Core, immigration, Medicaid expansion, drugs, and the economy. Questions were also asked about state and national politics and the popularity of various state leaders.

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Fifty-six percent of survey respondents supported an expansion of Medicaid through the ACA—a key facet of the law that has been vehemently opposed by Republicans at the state and federal levels. Just 26 percent opposed expanding the program to extend health care to low-income residents. Tennessee is one of 21 states that has not expanded Medicaid.

The fate of Medicaid expansion is one of the most pressing issues facing lawmakers when the state legislature convenes on in January. Lawmakers during the 2013 legislative session passed the “Stop Obamacare Act,” which requires the governor to gain approval from the state legislature on any plan to expand Medicaid.

While Governor Bill Haslam (R) does not support expanding Medicaid through the ACA, he has said that he may support an alternative expansion similar to those implemented by states like Arkansas and Iowa. The details of Haslam’s so-called “Tennessee Plan” remain vague.

Opinions varied when residents were asked about laws to restrict abortion.

On Election Day, voters approved an amendment to the state constitution that allows lawmakers to pass legislation to restrict abortion.

In preparation for the upcoming legislative session, lawmakers have already pre-filed bills to restrict access to abortion. The restrictions include forced ultrasounds and a mandatory 72-hour waiting period for women seeking an abortion.

The poll found that 67 percent of those surveyed oppose any ban that would outlaw abortion without exception. Only 28 percent said they would support a law to prohibit private health insurance plans from covering abortion costs.

However, 47 percent supported requiring an ultrasound and 55 percent supported a waiting period.

There was significant support among Tennesseans for marriage equality. Only 39 percent opposed legal recognition for same-sex couples, while 57 percent supported either marriage or civil unions for same-sex couples.