In a recent poll conducted by SoonerPoll, 53 percent of likely Oklahoma voters indicated that they would support a proposal to levy a $50 fee on Medicaid enrollees that smoke. The poll also revealed that 38.3 percent of likely Oklahoma voters polled would oppose such a proposal, while 8.7 percent had no opinion.

Jason Sutton, Health Care Policy Analyst at the Oklahoma Council for Public Affairs, said these results show that Oklahomans recognize that unhealthy behaviors drive health costs to unsustainable limits.

“What Oklahomans are saying is that citizens who lead an unhealthy lifestyle in which they engage in unhealthy behavior should be held accountable when it comes to receiving tax payer subsidized health insurance,” Sutton said. “Oklahomans want Medicaid enrollees to have some skin in the game.”

OCPA’s Jason Sutton on Medicaid Fees

SoonerPoll’s Wesley Burt asks Jason Sutton, Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs Health Care Policy Analyst, about his take on the latest SoonerPoll results concerning a proposal to levy a fee on smokers who recieve Medicaid.

 

The question comes at a time when many states face Medicaid budget cuts while many of their citizens continue to enroll in the program. In April, Arizona Governor Jan Brewer put forward a similar proposal that also extends a $50 fee to both enrollees who smoke and overweight enrollees.

Sutton said that Oklahoma, like many other states, faces a situation similar to Arizona’s as the state’s Medicaid enrollment continues to increase, reaching unsustainable levels.

“The real benefit of extending a fee on unhealthy behavior has less to do with the monetary value of the fee collected and more to do with creating incentives for change.” Sutton said. “If you incentivize people by requiring some cost sharing on unhealthy behaviors then you will see less people engaging in these unhealthy behaviors, which, in the long run, will lower costs for the entire system.”

Crosstab analysis reveals bi partisan support as the percentage of Republicans and Democrats who would support such a proposal is within margin of error. When results are examined by party label it is revealed that conservatives are 10 points more likely to support the proposal than liberals with 54 and 44 percent respectively.

Crosstab analysis indicates no corresponding pattern between income and support. The results do reveal that 55.5 percent of those who make less than $35,000 a year, the most likely to be Medicaid users, would support the proposal.

SoonerPoll.com, Oklahoma’s public opinion pollster, was commissioned for this poll by the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs. SoonerPoll.com conducted the scientific study using live interviewers by telephone of 509 likely voters from May 2 – 12. The study has a margin of error of ± 4.34 percent.

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