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Governor Bill Haslam leaves the Cherokee Health Systems facility after answering questions about his Insure Tennessee plan which could expand Medicare to thousands of people in the state of Tennessee. Governor Haslam spoke while visiting the Cherokee Health Systems office in downtown Chattanooga on Ja. 28, 2015.

NASHVILLE — A new poll commissioned by Republican Gov. Bill Haslam says that GOP voters "initially" support his efforts to use federal Medicaid dollars to extend health coverage to 280,000 low-income Tennesseans by a 44 percent to 16 percent margin.

Another 40 percent said they were undecided, according to the poll, conducted by North Star Opinion Research from Jan. 21-26. The poll offered those surveyed with arguments for and against Haslam's proposal, officials said.

Six hundred voters were surveyed from Jan. 21-26 with an oversample of 400 to ensure they had Republicans, according to the poll memo written by pollsters Whit Ayres and Jon McHenry. The margin of error was plus or minus 4.9 percent.

The poll was released this afternoon, several hours before Haslam addresses a special session of the  GOP-controlled General Assembly at 6 p.m. CST. There, the governor will urge state lawmakers to approve a resolution allowing him to move forward with his Insure Tennessee plan.

A separate poll was conducted by Public Opinion Strategies of 300 Republican voters in state House District 24. The district is home to Rep. Kevin Brooks, R-Cleveland, who has come under attack by Americans for Prosperity in radio ads for speaking favorably of aspects of Haslam's plan and for urging some colleagues to keep an open mind.

The Jan. 28-29 survey, which had a margin of error of plus or minus 5.66 percent, asked voters if they support or oppose Haslam's "alternative Medicaid approach to provide health insurance for the working poor in our state."

GOP voters said they backed it 53-19 percent.

Pollsters said they simulated a "legislative debate that tested message both for and against the plan." 

That increased support from 53 percent to 66 percent, the pollsters said, while opposition "grows just seven points to 26 percent."

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