JAMA Health Forum. 2023 Oct 6;4(10):e233656. doi: 10.1001/jamahealthforum.2023.3656.
IMPORTANCE: Federal and state policymakers continue to pursue work requirements and premiums as conditions of Medicaid participation. Opinion polling should distinguish between general policy preferences and specific views on quotas, penalties, and other elements.
OBJECTIVE: To identify views of adults in Kentucky regarding the design of Medicaid work requirements and premiums.
DESIGN, SETTING, AND PARTICIPANT: A cross-sectional survey was conducted via telephone and the internet from June 27 through July 11, 2019, of 1203 Kentucky residents 9 months before the state intended to implement Medicaid work requirements and mandatory premiums. Statistical analysis was performed from October 2019 to August 2023.
MAIN OUTCOMES AND MEASURES: Agreement, disagreement, or neutral views on policy components were the main outcomes. Recruitment for the survey used statewide random-digit dialing and an internet panel to recruit residents aged 18 years or older. Findings were weighted to reflect state demographics. Of 39 110 landlines called, 209 reached an eligible person (of whom 150 participated), 8654 were of unknown eligibility, and 30 247 were ineligible. Of 55 305 cell phone lines called, 617 reached an eligible person (of whom 451 participated), 29 951 were of unknown eligibility, and 24 737 were ineligible. Internet recruitment (602 participants) used a panel of adult Kentucky residents maintained by an external data collector.
RESULTS: Percentages were weighted to resemble the adult population of Kentucky residents. Of the participants in the study, 52% (95% CI, 48%-55%) were women, 80% (95% CI, 77%-82%) were younger than 65 years, 41% (95% CI, 38%-45%) were enrolled in Medicaid, 36% (95% CI, 32%-39%) were Republican voters, 32% (95% CI, 29%-36%) were Democratic voters, 14% (95% CI, 11%-16%) were members of racial and ethnic minority groups (including but not limited to American Indian or Alaska Native, Asian, Black, Hispanic or Latinx, and Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander), and 48% (95% CI, 44%-52%) were employed. Most participants supported work requirements generally (69% [95% CI, 66%-72%]) but did not support terminating benefits due to noncompliance (43% [95% CI, 39%-46%]) or requiring quotas of 20 or more hours per week (34% [95% CI, 31%-38%]). Support for monthly premiums (34% [95% CI, 31%-38%]) and exclusion penalties for premium nonpayment (22% [95% CI, 19%-25%]) was limited. Medicaid enrollees were significantly less supportive of these policies than nonenrollees. For instance, regarding work requirements, agreement was lower (64% [95% CI, 59%-69%] vs 72% [95% CI, 68%-77%]) and disagreement higher (26% [95% CI, 21%-31%] vs 20% [95% CI, 16%-24%]) among current Medicaid enrollees compared with nonenrollees (P = .04). Among Medicaid enrollees, some beliefs about work requirements varied significantly by employment status but not by political affiliation. Among nonenrollees, beliefs about work requirements, premiums, and Medicaid varied significantly by political affiliation but not by employment.
CONCLUSIONS AND RELEVANCE: This study suggests that even when public constituencies express general support for Medicaid work requirements or premiums, they may oppose central design features, such as quotas and termination of benefits. Program participants may also hold significantly different beliefs than nonparticipants, which should be understood before policies are changed.