Transcending party lines, a new statewide poll finds strong and growing support for closing North Carolina’s health care coverage gap among voters of all political stripes.
The survey of registered voters, conducted by Harper Polling and The Stewart Group from August 26-27, found that a whopping 75% of North Carolinians want to close our deadly health insurance coverage gap, while only 16% oppose closing the gap, according to Dee Stewart, who served as project manager for the statewide survey.
Support for closing the coverage gap is strong across the political spectrum, with 64% of self-identified Republicans, 76% of unaffiliated voters, and 83% of Democrats favoring closing the gap. Even among voters identifying themselves as Very Conservative, an overwhelming 60% favor closing the coverage gap, while only 22% oppose it.
Patrick Woodie, President of the N.C. Rural Center and Dee Stewart were recent guests on OBX Today on News Talk 92.3 WZPR to talk about the findings of the survey. Click the player to listen:
What is the ‘Coverage Gap’?
The “coverage gap” refers to people who earn too much to qualify for Medicaid, but not enough to get help in the private insurance marketplace. Prior to COVID-19, the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) estimated that if North Carolina closed its coverage gap, over 400,000 North Carolinians would gain health insurance.
Now, in the midst of the health and economic havoc wrought by the COVID-19 pandemic, KFF reports that the number has grown by well over 200,000. Closing the gap hinges on expanding Medicaid, as voters in conservative Oklahoma and Missouri recently approved through ballot initiatives. North Carolina remains one of just 12 states that have opted not to make this move.
Other key findings of the statewide poll include the following:
Voters see dealing with COVID-19 as the most important election issue of the 2020 cycle, followed by a second tier of unemployment/jobs, education, and civil unrest and social justice issues.
A solid majority of respondents say the COVID-19 pandemic has made them more concerned about the number of uninsured or under-insured North Carolinians.
78% believe COVID-19 will have a long lasting negative impact on the well being of our people and our economy.
By a nearly 2-1 margin, 61%-31%, voters believe that closing the coverage gap will be an important issue in the upcoming election.
Care4Carolina — a coalition of 65 member organizations supporting affordable, quality health care in North Carolina including patient advocates, businesses, and other groups across the state — commissioned the poll
The sample size for the survey is 612 registered voters in North Carolina and the margin of error is +/-3.96% at a 95% confidence interval, meaning that if this survey were repeated, results would not vary from the population by more than 3.96 percentage points 19 times out of 20.
Responses were gathered via landline and mobile telephone interviews conducted by live callers at a professional call center. Demographics were adjusted to reflect the population from which the sample was drawn. The survey was conducted August 26-27, 2020 by Harper Polling. The total percentages of responses may not equal 100% due to rounding.
This story originally appeared on OBXToday.com. Read More local stories here.