New poll shows voters overwhelmingly support Medi-Cal and oppose cuts

May 30, 2013
Area(s) of Interest: Access to Care Advocacy 

SACRAMENTO – With thousands of health care providers ready to unite at the State Capitol Tuesday, a new poll shows that likely voters in California overwhelmingly support California’s Medi-Cal health care safety net and oppose massive retroactive cuts that are set to take place in July. Additionally, Californians do not believe the cuts will improve the state’s budget picture.

The poll of 1,000 likely 2014 California voters was conducted May 21-23 by Benenson Strategy Group in partnership with Public Opinion Strategies, firms that together do work for clients on both sides of the political aisle.

The poll shows an overwhelming majority (88 percent) of voters believe Medi-Cal is important compared to other state spending priorities and (62 percent) of voters oppose Gov. Brown’s cuts to Medi-Cal provider payments, while Just 29 percent of voters support the cuts, and only 10 percent oppose them strongly.

Opposition to the cuts crosses all parties, major demographics, and geography. Even 60 percent of those favorable to Brown oppose him on this issue.

The poll was commissioned by The “We Care for California” Coalition – formed this year to expand access to quality health care for all Californians and to oppose further rate cuts to Medi-Cal. It is the state’s largest coalition of health care providers, including major statewide organizations representing physicians, dentists, hospitals, community clinics, first responders, health workers, caregivers, and major health plans.

Other findings include:

  • Of the several dozen different demographic groups tested in the survey, not one supports the Medi-Cal cuts. There is little difference between Northern and Southern California, Anglos or Hispanics. Even the wealthiest Californians oppose the Medi-Cal cuts. 66 percent of Democrats and 58 percent of Republicans oppose the cuts, for example.

  • At the same time voters say the Medi-Cal cuts will do a great deal of harm to seniors and low-income workers, they see little upside for the state budget. 77 percent think the cuts will hurt the quality and availability of health care in the Medi-Cal program a great deal or some, compared to just 45 percent who think it will save money or improve the budget situation a great deal or some. Underscoring the difference in intensity on each side, 42 percent think it will hurt people a great deal, while a meager 8 percent think it will help the budget a great deal.

  • Voters believe Medi-Cal is critically important compared to other government spending priorities. Nearly 9 in 10 likely voters say Medi-Cal is important (58 percent say it is very important) compared to other government programs. 95 percent of registered Democrats, 90 percent of those registered as Decline to State or other, and 78 percent of registered Republicans say Medi-Cal is important compared to other government programs.

  • Notably, when asked about their top two budget priorities, making sure low-income seniors, children, and working families have access to health care ranks third (33 percent), after creating jobs and properly funding education – but well ahead of other high-profile projects in Sacramento like ensuring a safe water supply (15 percent).

  • For voters, the potential harm isn’t abstract, it’s personal, with a majority (53 percent) saying it is somewhat likely or very likely that they or someone in their immediate family may need Medi-Cal coverage at some point.

  • The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percent at the 95 percent confidence level.

    On Tuesday, June 4, health care providers from across the state will converge on the state capitol in the largest health care rally ever in Sacramento. The historic event, called "WE ARE MEDI-CAL," will be held on the West Side of the Capitol from 11 am-4 pm. It will include more than 100 busloads of health professionals – including administrators, physicians and frontline health workers – from every region of the state.

    The day-long “WE ARE MEDI-CAL” event – unprecedented in size -- is intended to convey intense public concerns and increase policymaker awareness of the threat proposed Medi-Cal cuts pose to health care access, especially in rural and underserved communities – and, as a result, the expansion of health care under federal reform.

    -# # #-

    Members of the “We Care for California” Coalition are: California Hospital Association, California Medical Association, SEIU-UHW, American Medical Response, Anthem Blue Cross, Blue Shield of California, California Association of Physicians Groups, California Dental Association, California Primary Care Association, Dignity Health, Health Net, Kaiser Permanente and Molina Healthcare.


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