Poll: Majority supports Medicaid expansion in South

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The healthcare law expands Medicaid to 133 percent of the federal poverty line, but the Supreme Court's healthcare ruling last year said states must have the ability to opt out of the expansion.

Support in the Deep South was strong across racial, gender, age and financial lines. Only 38 percent of Republicans said they support the expansion, but self-identified conservatives were split almost evenly — 47 percent favorable to 49 percent unfavorable.

When respondents were asked a more detailed question that included information about federal funding for the Medicaid expansion, support slipped but a 54 percent majority still said they favor the expansion.

The federal government initially covers the entire cost of the expansion, falling to 90 percent after the first three years.

The same poll found deep misgivings about the law's individual mandate, which requires most taxpayers to either buy health insurance or pay a penalty. Sixty-five percent had an unfavorable view of the mandate, compared with just 31 percent who had a favorable view.

Overall public opinion of the healthcare law was negative and basically in line with national polls. Thirty-three percent of those polled in the South said they have a favorable view of the law, compared with 44 percent unfavorable.

The Medicaid expansion has been an easier sell for the Obama administration than the health law as a whole. Several high-profile conservative Republican governors, including John Kasich (Ohio), Rick Scott (Fla.), Jan Brewer (Ariz.) and Chris Christie (N.J.) have supported the expansion.