Branstad's plans on Medicaid, mental health facilities unpopular as well as unwise

Governor Terry Branstad is forging ahead with some major policies he didn’t campaign on last year, oblivious to concerns about the impact on Iowa’s Medicaid recipients and people served by two mental health institutions the governor wants to close.

According to Public Policy Polling’s latest Iowa survey, the governor’s plans are deeply unpopular.

Full results from PPP’s Public Policy Polling’s survey  of 1,219 Iowa voters between April 23 and 26 (producing a statistical margin of error of plus or minus 2.8 percent) are here. Tom Jensen hit the highlights in this polling memo:

Iowa voters are strongly opposed to Governor Branstad’s proposal to privatize Medicaid. Just 22% of voters are in support of it, with a 52% majority against. Both Democrats (7/78) and independents (25/49) are firmly against it and even Republicans (36/26) are only narrowly in favor. This is proving to be a very unpopular initiative.

Voters are even more firm in their opposition to Branstad’s proposal to close the state’s mental health facilities in Clarinda and Mount Pleasant. Just 12% favor that to 68% who are opposed. On that issue there is a pretty clear bipartisan consensus – Democrats (5/84), independents (12/69), and Republicans (19/50) are all opposed to their closure.

Branstad didn’t consult with state lawmakers about shifting Medicaid recipients to a managed-care model, nor did he notify legislators before January that his administration was moving to shut down the Clarinda and Mount Pleasant facilities. The Iowa Senate unanimously approved a bill last month that would provide some oversight of the Medicaid reorganization, which has set off alarm bells based on a similar policy’s results in Kansas. However, Iowa House Republicans let that bill die.

Meanwhile, PPP found that 44 percent of Iowa respondents approve of Branstad’s work, while 44 percent disapprove. Lieutenant Governor Kim Reynolds, who has accompanied Branstad at hundreds of public events over the past couple of years, is still “largely unknown,” with favorable and unfavorable ratings of 22 percent each, while 56 percent of respondents don’t have an opinion.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: Branstad will resign to allow Reynolds to run for governor in 2018 as the incumbent. He wants her to succeed him, but she doesn’t have enough of a constituency in the GOP or a public profile to win a statewide primary from her current position. Even if Reynolds is the sitting governor (assuming Branstad steps down in late 2016 or the first half or 2017), she could have trouble beating Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey in the 2018 gubernatorial primary.

Any relevant comments are welcome in this thread.

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