Voters appear ready to approve Medicaid expansion ballot measure new poll shows

Nearly two-thirds of Utahns support the Medicaid expansion citizen initiative petition that will be on November’s ballot for voter approval or rejection, a new poll shows.

The initiative qualified for the ballot the first of this month – joining two other initiatives that also got the required number of voter signatures.

You can read the Medicaid petition here.

Pollster Dan Jones & Associates finds:

  • 63 percent of Utahns “strongly” or “somewhat” support the initiative, which in addition to providing health insurance for low-income Utahns would raise the current state sales tax from 4.7 percent to 4.85 percent to pay for the expansion.
  • 30 percent oppose the petition.
  • And 7 percent don’t know.

If it were on the ballot, would you support or oppose requiring the state to expand Medicaid as proposed under the Affordable Care Act to all those who qualify up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level? The initiative would raise the state sales tax from 4.7 to 4.85 percent to help pay for expansion of medical benefits to low-income Utahns.


The GOP-controlled Utah Legislature has been grappling over Medicaid expansion – authorized by the Affordable Care Act – for years.

Conservative House Republicans refused to accept GOP Gov. Gary Herbert’s Healthy Utah partial expansion.

They then passed a much scaled down version that would cover fewer than 10,000 poorer Utahns.

When President Donald Trump came into office, he offered a Medicaid expansion that included having recipients either have to work or train to work.

GOP lawmakers then in the 2018 Legislature jumped on board and passed an expansion that would cover 100 percent of Utahns at the poverty line – with the work requirement.

That plan requires federal waivers, and it is unclear if Utah can get them.

Then comes the citizen initiative petition, which would raise the sales tax a bit, thus dealing with the GOP’s concern that Medicaid expansion would cost too much.

The petition goes back to the original ACA expansion – never passed by the Legislature – which would cover folks up to 138 percent of poverty and not require them to work or have artificial time limits on how long a person can get the health insurance coverage.

An updated fiscal note on the petition says the sales tax hike will raise about $90 million a year, and the expansion will cost approximately $77 million – so, for now, it does cover the increased cost to the state.

Here are some of the poll’s demographic breakouts:

  • Women like the petition more than men, 69 percent of women support it compared to just 58 percent of men.
  • Republicans are split on the idea, 48 percent support it, 43 percent oppose it, with 9 percent undecided.
  • Democrats really like it, 94-4 percent.
  • Political independents also favor the petition, 71-23 percent.
  • As might be expected, those who said they are “very conservative” politically are against the petition, 53-39 percent.
  • But those who told Jones they are “somewhat conservative” favor it, 51-42 percent.
  • The “moderates” like it, 69-22 percent.
  • Those who said they are “somewhat liberal” really like it, 91-7 percent.
  • And the “very liberal” favor it, 99-1 percent.

Religion plays some part in the issue – kind of the idea of taking care of those less fortunate.

Those who said they are “very active” in the Mormon Church support the petition, 56-38 percent.

All other religions support the petition by greater majorities than that.

Those who said they have no religion support it, 80-15 percent.

Finally, likes to highlight various poll results in the 4th Congressional District, where Rep. Mia Love has a strong challenge from Democratic Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams.

Jones finds that those voters favor the Medicaid expansion petition, 70-23 percent.

By and large, Love, R-Utah, has opposed the Affordable Care Act and its various offshoots.

Jones polled 615 adults from May 15-25. The survey has a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percent.