According to new research released by the Georgetown University Health Policy Institute, families living in rural areas and small towns benefit more from Medicaid than those in metropolitan areas. The biggest disparity is among children: Nearly half of kids living in rural areas (45 percent) are insured through Medicaid, versus 38 percent in cities. Adults living in rural areas also benefited the most in the states that expanded Medicaid under Obamacare, with the uninsurance rate dropping by 11 percent, compared to 9 percent in metropolitan areas.
As has been widely covered, in the 2016 election, rural areas swung hard for Trump, who campaigned on protecting Medicaid, a promise that was promptly reversed in the House-passed Trumpcare bill that would cut more than $800 billion from the program. The Georgetown report shows the extent to which Medicaid is a lifeline to these rural communities. According to a post by Joan Alker, one of the report’s authors, “One of the reasons that rural areas and small towns rely on Medicaid more is because the overall poverty rates are higher and the types of jobs there, such as agriculture or small businesses, are less likely to offer insurance.”
Unsurprisingly, a large number of Trump voters oppose cuts to the program. According to polling by the Kaiser Family Foundation, a majority of Trump voters want to keep Medicaid spending the same, and less than a quarter would opt to decrease spending. Disagreement over Medicaid (to burn or to pillage) is already fracturing Senate Republicans, some of whom have pretty much given up the idea of passing a bill. “It’s more likely to fail than not,” Senator Lindsey Graham told the Wall Street Journal.
Any of the cuts to Medicaid currently being considered by Republicans would be disastrous for the rural voters who supported Trump. It would behoove the Democrats to keep driving that fact home.