01/24/2014 06:39 pm ET Updated Jan 24, 2014

Most Kentucky Republicans, Unlike Mitch McConnell, Support Medicaid Expansion

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The vast majority of Kentuckians support the state's decision to expand Medicaid, putting them at odds with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), according to a poll conducted by the University of Cincinnati and funded by the nonprofits Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky and Interact for Health.

Seventy-nine percent of Kentucky adults, including 90 percent of Democrats and 60 percent of Republicans, back the expansion of Medicaid to cover about 308,000 additional residents. Eighty-seven percent said it's important to them that the state's Medicaid program provides health care coverage to low-income individuals.

About half of the states, including Kentucky, have chosen to opt into an expansion of Medicaid eligibility, under the Affordable Care Act, to cover all residents with incomes up to 138 percent of the poverty level.

But McConnell has questioned the decision by Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear (D) to accept the expansion, arguing that it will be costly to the state.

"Given Kentucky’s struggles to finance its current Medicaid program and the uncertainty of future federal funding, I am surprised the governor would make this decision to further implement Obamacare and expose the commonwealth’s taxpayers to more open ended expenses they cannot afford," McConnell said in a statement last May, according to Louisville-based WPFL.

Kentucky's other senator, Rand Paul (R), said in November that he feared the expansion could "bankrupt" some rural hospitals.

"This means that people like Rand Paul and Mitch McConnell are clearly out of touch with their own party in Kentucky as it relates to at least that portion of the law," Rep. John Yarmouth (D-Ky.) told WPFL.

The poll surveyed 1,551 Kentucky adults by phone between Oct. 25 and Nov. 26 last year. The results were released Friday.



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