Uninsured Dropped Fastest in Senate Battleground States

The Fiscal Times

The president’s healthcare law is about to make things on the campaign trail a little more interesting.

That’s because a new Gallup poll shows that Obamacare is significantly cutting the uninsured rate in states with hotly contested Senate races where Republicans have campaigned using a strict anti-Obamacare strategy.

Related: Uninsured Rate Shrinks Fastest for Blacks, Hispanics

In Kentucky, for example, where Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has routinely called the health care law a disaster—ACA provisions have carved the state’s uninsured rate down from 20.4 percent to 11.9 percent.

Likewise, over in Arkansas where conservative groups like Americans for Prosperity have spent upwards of a million dollars slamming Sen. Mark Pryor (D-AR) for embracing Obamacare, the state has seen its uninsured rate drop from 22.5 percent in 2013 to 12.4 percent under the health care law.

According to Gallup’s findings, states that expanded their Medicaid programs and created their own state-based exchanges under the law saw a greater drop in their uninsured rates than states that did not.

In the 21 states that expanded Medicaid and set up their own exchanges the uninsured rate dropped by an average of 4 points, compared to an average 2.2 percent drop in the states that did not implement both.

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“At the state level, those that have implemented two of the law's core mechanisms -- Medicaid expansion and state health exchanges -- are seeing a substantially larger drop in the uninsured rate than states that did not take both of these actions. Consequently, the gap in uninsured that existed between the two groups in 2013 has now nearly doubled through the first half of 2014,” Gallup’s Dan Witters noted in the survey.

Related: Uninsured Rate Lowest Ever Recorded by Gallup

Now several states that chose not to expand their Medicaid programs or set up their own exchanges before are reconsidering. New Hampshire just became the 26th state to expand Medicaid and Utah is also considering similar options.

Meanwhile, some states that had problems with their state exchanges, like Oregon, are switching to the federal exchange next year, despite the ruling from D.C. appeals court that threatens to disallow those signups.

The national uninsured rate hovers at 13.4 percent—the lowest quarterly rate in at least six years. That’s down from its peak of 18 percent in the third quarter of last year, according to the survey. Of course, that’s not surprising since 87 percent of all new signups receive taxpayer subsidies.

Still, despite having a significant impact on the uninsured rate, voters still remain weary of Obamacare. A new survey from the Kaiser Family Foundation found that 53 percent of respondents had negative views of the health care law—an eight percent increase from the previous poll and the highest unfavorable rating in the survey’s history.

Americans are basing their views of Obamacare on more than just who is and isn’t getting access to coverage. Things like how well the website will be working during the next enrollment period as well as the affordability of the plans themselves also play a major factor in how much the public likes the law. More importantly, a new report by Kaiser Health News and National Public Radio revealed more doctors are dropping out of Obamacare because of low pay rates.

A separate poll by Bankrate found that a slim majority of Americans believe Healthcare.gov and some of the state exchange websites won’t be up to par by the fall—when the new enrollment period begins. The same poll also found that almost half of the respondents anticipate higher premiums to be a major problem next year.

Of course, November is still months away, so there is plenty of time for their perceptions to change before they step into the voting booths.

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