A new survey puts the spotlight on the nation's most unpopular governors. A quick look at those governors' records shows many disliked decisions that impacted healthcare.
Four of the 10 least popular governors highlighted in the Morning Consult analysis have not expanded Medicaid to more low-income people. Maine Gov. Paul LePage, a Republican who made the “bottom” 10, actually called Medicaid expansion “sinful” a couple years ago. Several other governors, including Republican Matt Bevin of Kentucky, have openly expressed their antipathy for the Affordable Care Act.
Morning Consult, a Beltway polling publication, surveyed 66,000 voters in every state from January through early May to gauge how they view their respective governors. No governor fared worse than Republican Sam Brownback of Kansas. Sixty-five percent of Kansas voters gave Brownback the thumbs-down for his performance.
A few years ago, Brownback approved large tax cuts that stripped state revenue. The decision hurt providers that rely on Medicaid payments and people who depend on those healthcare services.
“This is an administration and a Legislature that doesn't believe in government administration of services,” Sheldon Weisgrau, a project director at the Kansas Association for the Medically Underserved, told Shannon Muchmore for her recent feature on how state budget battles are gutting healthcare for vulnerable patients.
Oklahoma Republican Mary Fallin ranked as the 10th least popular governor, and her state could become the first to eliminate Medicaid altogether. Oklahoma's Medicaid program has proposed 25% cuts to provider payments, which has drawn furor from hospitals and physicians.
Landon Hise, CEO of Cordell (Okla.) Memorial Hospital, wrote a commentary piece for Modern Healthcare this past April that criticized politicians for refusing to accept the ACA's federal funding for Medicaid expansion. “Oklahoma's rural healthcare is going up in flames, and state leaders won't take the steps necessary to douse the fire,” he said.
Michigan's Rick Snyder had the third-highest disapproval rating at 63%, as people discovered Snyder turned a blind eye to Flint's lead-contaminated water. Democratic Gov. Dannel Malloy of Connecticut ranked worse than Snyder with a 64% disapproval rating. Malloy has angered many hospital executives in the state with his criticism of tax exemption and his decision to temporarily halt mergers and acquisitions.