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Medicare Disadvantage

Poll: Mark Pryor may face trouble in reelection bid over Obamacare support

Sen. Mark Pryor (D., Ark.) / AP
• March 19, 2014 1:50 pm

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Sen. Mark Pryor (D., Ark.) could face a Medicare Advantage problem in his Arkansas reelection bid, according to a new poll released by the American Action Network.

The statewide survey of likely voters found widespread concern about President Barack Obama’s health care law, which will cut spending for Medicare Advantage, a government-subsidized privately managed health care program for seniors.

Seventy-one percent of respondents said they opposed cuts to Medicare Advantage; only 8 percent said they approved.

The poll’s emphasis on the Medicare Advantage cuts is the latest sign that Republicans will make the president’s signature health care legislation a major theme in the 2014 midterms.

While Pryor says he is against the Medicare Advantage reductions and recently sent a letter to the Obama administration opposing them, Republicans say he supported the cuts by voting for Obamacare.

Pryor’s Republican challenger, Rep. Tom Cotton, has already started targeting the incumbent on the Medicare Advantage issue.

If Republicans can successfully link Pryor to the Medicare Advantage cuts mandated by Obamacare, it would pose significant problems for the incumbent, according to the AAN poll. 77 percent of respondents said they would be less likely to support a member of Congress who supported Medicare Advantage cuts.

"How would Obamacare’s new cuts to Medicare Advantage play in Arkansas? They’d go over like a lead balloon," said AAN Communications Director Dan Conston. "Arkansas voters are clear as day: they don’t want Medicare Advantage cut."

Obama’s health care law as a whole remains unpopular in the state.

Fifty-nine percent of respondents said they would be more likely to vote for a Senate candidate who is calling for a "full repeal and replacement" of Obamacare, while 23 percent said they would be more likely to back the candidate who supported Obamacare but wants minor changes to the law.

The AAN poll also quoted Pryor directly in one question, asking likely voters if they would be more or less likely to support a candidate who said that Obamacare would "protect and expand an individual's choice of doctors and insurance plans without any government interference."

Sixty percent said they would be less likely to support a candidate who made such a statement, and 20 percent said more likely.

The live-operator poll was conducted by Harper Polling between March 11 and 12. It has a margin of error of +/- 4.14 percent.