A sign directing to the emergency room at Patient's Choice Medical Center of Humphreys County in Belzoni., Miss., Wednesday, November 9, 2022. The rural hospital closed in August 2013. Credit: Eric Shelton/Mississippi Today

A wide majority of Mississippians across partisan and demographic lines supports expanding Medicaid to provide health coverage for the working poor, according to a newly released Mississippi Today/Siena College poll.

The poll, conducted on March 6-8, showed 75% of respondents — including 59% of Republicans — said that lawmakers should “accept federal funds to expand Medicaid.” Additionally, 71% of Mississippians said they believe lawmakers should address the state ?s hospital crisis by passing an unspecified long-term funding solution.

Editor’s note: Poll methodology and crosstabs can be found at the bottom of this story. Click here to read more about our partnership with Siena College Research Institute.

The numbers show a continued shift of voter sentiment in what has long been a partisan battle. But there continues to be virtually no movement on the issue by Republican leaders at the state level. In total, 15 bills filed this session to expand Medicaid — all of them authored by Democrats — were killed without debate by Republicans legislative leaders.

Mississippi is one of just 10 states to refuse expansion — and that number is getting smaller by the month, with North Carolina’s legislature deciding in February to expand. Mississippi, in turn, is refusing about $1 billion a year in federal funding meant to help poor states provide healthcare, and leaving up to 300,000 Mississippians without coverage.

Meanwhile, health officials say dozens of rural hospitals are in danger of closure, in large part due to eating the cost of providing care to indigent patients. Some of those hospitals are larger regional care centers, such as Greenwood Leflore Hospital, and even larger metro area hospitals are struggling financially because of uncompensated care costs.

A Siena College/Mississippi Today poll conducted in January indicated slightly higher support for Medicaid expansion. The January survey found that 80% of Mississippians — just outside the March poll’s 4.6% margin of error — supported expansion.

Since January, as various health care and economic groups continue to apply pressure for expansion, several Republican leaders have stepped up their talking points in resistance to expansion.

“Don’t simply cave under the pressure of Democrats and their allies in the media who are pushing for the expansion of Obamacare, welfare, and socialized medicine,” Gov. Tate Reeves said during his annual State of the State address on Jan. 30. “You have my word that if you stand up to the left’s push for endless government-run healthcare, I will stand with you.”

Lawmakers are scheduled to remain in Jackson and stay in session until April 2. There has been no serious talk among Republican leaders about Medicaid expansion.

Click here for complete methodology and crosstabs relevant to this story.

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Adam Ganucheau, as Mississippi Today's editor-in-chief, oversees the newsroom and works with the editorial team to fulfill our mission of producing high-quality journalism in the public interest. Adam has covered politics and state government for Mississippi Today since February 2016. A native of Hazlehurst, Adam has worked as a staff reporter for AL.com, The Birmingham News and The Clarion-Ledger and his work has appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post and Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Adam earned his bachelor’s in journalism from the University of Mississippi.