A predominant majority of Idahoans oppose the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), commonly known as Obamacare, as well as opposing the proposed Medicaid expansion and the creation of an Idaho health insurance exchange, according to a new poll. Three organizations, the Free Enterprise PAC, the Idaho Freedom Foundation, and Idaho Chooses Life, commissioned a public opinion survey of 600 random registered voters in Idaho to determine their level of support for recent "big government ideas" about intervening in health care markets, according to a Thursday news release.
"There are a lot of powerful lobbyists who want the Legislature and governor to implement Obamacare," Wayne Hoffman, executive director of the Idaho Freedom Foundation, was quoted as saying in the release. "We thought it was imperative to find out what Idahoans really want. It is quite clear that Idahoans want less government control of health care, not more. They want free market solutions and they want little to do with Obamacare."
Of the 600 polled respondents, only 23 percent said they believed the Supreme Court ruling that upheld the constitutionality of Obamacare was "good for the country." In contrast, 61 percent said they believed it was not.
An even higher majority, 64 percent, opposed the creation of an Idaho health insurance exchange, in comparison to only 18 percent who favored the idea. One of the many stipulations of the PPACA is that the federal government will create health insurance exchanges in any states that decline to establish their own. This has led some Idaho lawmakers to favor an Idaho exchange because they fear a federal version would be more costly and lead to significantly reduced state control over the program's implementation. Others contend, however, that federal restrictions on a state-created exchange would be so extensive that any such program would be state-controlled in name only.
"I really don't think that Idaho has any control either way, if it continues and goes through," said Idaho House Speaker Lawerence Denney, R-Midvale. "And I've asked the question many, many times, 'What is the difference in a federally run exchange and a state-run exchange if the federal government tells you what you have to do?' My experience with the federal government is that all we can do is make ours more stringent—we can't make it less. And, certainly, I wouldn't want anything more stringent than what they would want. I think we need to just hold off as long as we can."
Michael Cannon, director of health policy studies for the Cato Institute, a public policy think tank based in Washington, D.C., also told Idaho policymakers last week that refusing to create an Idaho exchange would protect individuals and employers from the PPACA's costly mandates and could well "force Congress to reopen this law and at least make major changes, but hopefully repeal this law entirely."
"I believe that the widespread opposition to an exchange is more than money," David Ripley, executive director of Idaho Chooses Life, was quoted as saying in the release. "People are scared that government bureaucrats will be making life and death decisions for their families."
The survey also included a question about whether respondents supported the proposed Medicaid expansion, and 63.5 percent of those polled registered their opposition. Some Idaho policymakers think the expansion could replace state-based and local funding for many piecemeal indigent services in Idaho, although they acknowledge that the potential costs are unknown. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that the expansion would cost U.S. taxpayers $800 billion in its first decade, and Idaho's taxpayers will contribute to that total just like every other state.
The polling was overseen by Boise's Spartac, LLC, which is owned by Lou Esposito, operator of the Free Enterprise PAC. Spartac purchased a randomized list of registered Idaho voters from Washington, D.C.–based political consulting firm Aristotle and subcontracted the calling to Advantage, Inc.
"The sample query was based upon two criteria: 1) A proportionate sample of each county based upon the current number of registered voters in that county," said Ripley in an email to IdahoReporter.com. "And (2), the persons randomly selected by the computer program had to be currently registered to vote, and had to have actually voted in at least two of the previous 10 primary or general elections. The list generated by Aristotle included approximately 23,000 households in all 44 counties." The release also specifies that the survey "carries a margin of error of 4% +/- at the 95% confidence interval."
Note: IdahoReporter.com is published by the Idaho Freedom Foundation.