Public and Political Opinion on Medicaid

Issue Brief

Public and Political Opinion on Medicaid

A Twitter Analysis

Medicaid has long been a political litmus test and a target for substantial programmatic changes. But what does the public feel about Medicaid, especially during a pandemic? In this study, the authors analyze more than one million Medicaid-related tweets from December 1, 2018 to September 30, 2020. They found a high volume of political posts on Twitter around Medicaid topics, peaking in January 2020 in the context of news about Medicaid expansion and the prior administration’s Medicaid block grant proposal. As the pandemic hit, the number of Twitter posts about Medicaid and the pandemic increased, and the volume of political tweets on other Medicaid topics dropped. The posts themselves also appeared to be less polarized. These patterns suggest that when the public sees Medicaid operate as a safety net, the program is far less polarizing than partisan politics might indicate. Highlighting Medicaid’s role during the pandemic could help strengthen public support for the program in non-crisis times and better position it to respond to future economic downturns.