Politicians still treading carefully around Obamacare

A statewide poll in mid-September showed 50 percent of respondents had an unfavorable view of the Affordable Health Care Act (Obamacare), while 40 percent had a favorable view.

But Republicans may not want to dance in the street over the results of the poll conducted by the Marquette University Law School. A different view of Badger State opinion about Obamacare emerges from answers to other questions on the topic.

What should be done with the program? While 10 percent said they favored keeping the program as it is now, another 50 percent said it should be kept and improved. Some 19 percent said they favored scrapping and replacing it, while just 18 percent favored a flat out repeal.

In Wisconsin, the most controversial issue in Obamacare has been Gov. Scott Walker’s rejection of expanding Medicaid to those with incomes up to 138 percent of the poverty level. The federal government would have fully funded the expansion for several years. By 2020, federal money would have paid 90 percent of the expanded program.

Walker rejected full federal funding even though it would have saved the state government more than $200 million in the first two years. His decision kept the federal Medicaid participation rate at 58 percent of those otherwise eligible. Walker said he is concerned the federal government might renege on the high levels of funding a full expansion of Medicaid.

Walker’s approach ended Medicaid coverage for tens of thousands of working poor. They are eligible for federal subsidies to buy health insurance, but by late September some 26,000 had not signed up.

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mary Burke said she would back the full expansion with the increase of federal money. The Marquette poll showed Burke’s position was favored by more than 2-to-1 margin over Walker’s decision.

Matt Pommer is a veteran correspondent who has covered the Capitol in Madison for many years. His column is published here with permission from the Wisconsin Newspaper Association.

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