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Survey: Maryland Voters Know Little About Federal Health Law

Although Maryland is a leader in implementing major provisions of the federal health law, many of its voters are still unsure of what changes are actually in store for them.

The results of a new poll, released Monday, found that while the majority of Maryland voters support the measure, only 30 percent of survey respondents know a lot about its specific provisions.

“I think the law is complicated,” said Nikki Highsmith Vernick, president and CEO of the Horizon Foundation, a Maryland-based independent health philanthropy and a sponsor of the poll.  “People might have things to focus on other than health care reform.”

According to Vernick, the results of the poll mean that there is more work to be done in preparing Maryland residents for the measure’s full implementation. One important finding is that the support of the law grew as people learned more about it, she said. “People want information in very simple, factual elements,” she added.

“We need to make sure that people need to know as much as possible about the Affordable Care Act. Particularly, those who stand to gain most from it,” Vincent DeMarco, president of the Maryland Health Care For All! coalition, said in an interview. The coalition also sponsored the poll.

For instance, the survey found that many Marylanders who may gain coverage under the state’s anticipated Medicaid expansion said they knew very little about the law – including more than 50 percent of African American women and non-college educated women. More than 60 Percent of Marylanders with incomes of less than $30,000 said they knew “a little” or “not much” about the law.

Photo by Michael Hilton via Flickr

Vernick and DeMarco indicated that both of their organizations have plenty of work in store for them between now and late next year when beneficiaries can start enrolling into the state’s Medicaid program.

“We need to invest more in outreach,” said Vernick, whose organization is already working with other groups to launch education and communication campaigns. “There’s a huge opportunity in the next six to twelve months to make sure that people understand what they need to do,” she added.

The telephone poll of 1,413 Maryland voters was conducted by Lake Research Partners between September 14 and 23 and has a margin of error of +/- 3 percentage points. The total of survey respondents included an oversample of 406 voters from Howard County.