Most Florida voters rank health care as one of the top three most important functions of state government, and they feel it is important for state government to provide health care coverage to uninsured children and uninsured low-income working adults, according to a new survey designed to capture voter attitudes toward and awareness of health care issues in Florida.
The survey, commissioned by the Florida Medicaid Education Collaborative (FMEC) whose members include the Quantum Foundation, the Center for Medicaid and the Uninsured at the University of Florida, the Jessie Ball duPont Fund and the Winter Park Health Foundation, was conducted December 1-5 and included 1,100 Florida voters statewide. Collaborative members, dedicated to conducting research and providing information to key stakeholders for their use in making informed health care policy decisions, commissioned the study to better understand Floridian’s concerns about health care issues.
All of the Florida residents polled by Mason-Dixon Polling & Research, Inc., said they had voted in the November presidential election. The margin for error on the statewide survey is plus or minus three percent.
Some key results included:
- When compared with other responsibilities, including education, environment, law enforcement and economic development, more Floridians indicated health care was the most important function of Florida state government. 63% of Florida voters named health care as one of the top three most important functions of state government—28% said it was “the most important function.”
- When asked specifically about Medicaid, 82% of Florida voters feel it is important for Florida state government to provide health care coverage to uninsured children and uninsured low-income working adults, with 58% feeling it is “very important.”
- When advised that Florida’s Medicaid program accounts for one quarter of the state budget and knowing that will increase due to population growth among those who qualify, 73% of Florida voters still feel that the state of Florida has a “responsibility to assist in providing health coverage for uninsured children and uninsured working low-income families.”
- Only 33% of Florida voters are aware that Florida is considering changes to its Medicaid program.
The survey focused on issues such as voter concern about cost and accessibility of health care and insurance coverage; levels of support available for low-income and needy disabled, the elderly, children and working families without health care coverage; levels of concern about the cost of Medicaid to the state of Florida, and the roles of federal, state and local governments.
According to FMEC members, this is an important time to assess the public’s concerns and knowledge of health care issues and proposed changes. This information is timely as state legislators will soon be convening for the 2005 session, and a major item for their consideration is how Florida will deal with its major budget shortfall. Expenses associated with Medicaid and programs that make health care available for those in need account for almost a quarter of the state budget. Information gained from polls like this one commissioned by the FMEC can support lawmakers’ efforts to make decisions that reflect the concerns and desires of Florida residents. Florida’s Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA) has been charged by Governor Jeb Bush to develop recommendations to reform Florida’s Medicaid.