(Albuquerque) The Rio Grande Foundation, using Utah-based polling company, NSON, polled 400 registered voters residing in Bernalillo County over three nights from January 8-10 on the proposed $146 million expansion of University of New Mexico Hospital. Poll results available here.

The polling found both widespread concerns about the proposed UNMH expansion and questions regarding such a large investment being made in this particular project without the direct approval of voters or elected officials.

• 54.2 percent of participants stated that “Funds should be reserved for the poor/ uninsured to only 29.7 percent who wanted their money spent on a $146 million hospital;

• 61.5 percent stated that they preferred to wait to see how the shape of health care might change once “ObamaCare” takes full effect. Only 24.7 percent wanted the hospital to be built right away. 7.3 percent completely opposed building the hospital;

• 71.6 percent expressed a desire to have the Bernalillo County Commission specifically approve and oversee the UNMH expansion as opposed to just 17.5 percent who felt that such approval and oversight were unnecessary;

• 46.1 percent of respondents, when informed of the $90 million that Bernalillo County taxpayers currently spend on UNMH, expressed a desire for a system of outpatient clinics throughout the County. 16.6 percent urged the construction of a new psychiatric hospital and more behavioral services. Only 15.3 percent urged expansion of UNM Hospital;

• A bare majority, 46.3 percent, stated that their “taxes for health care and the $90 million spent on UNMH annually” were “about right,” while 42.9 percent stated that their tax burden for UNMH was “more than they could afford.”

Paul Gessing, president of the Rio Grande Foundation said, “It is clear that the groups pushing for expansion of UNMH have not made their case to the citizens of Bernalillo County, the people who pay the bills for the hospital and its prospective expansion. Rather than trying to ram this project through yet another unelected body, we urge proponents of this hospital expansion to make the case to County citizens and their elected representatives. This project has very little support at this time. The voters of Bernalillo County have other health care priorities.”

The margin of error of this poll is +/- 4.9 percent.