Short Takes On News & Events

Don’t Change Medicare, Most Republicans Say In Poll

By Jay Hancock

August 16th, 2012, 12:59 PM

As Rep. Paul Ryan’s plan to overhaul Medicare makes campaign headlines, a majority of Republicans oppose changing the government program for seniors, according to a new poll by the Kaiser Family Foundation and the Washington Post. (KHN is an editorially independent program of the foundation.) That could spell trouble for presumptive presidential nominee Mitt Romney and his designated  running mate Ryan as voters focus on the Wisconsin congressman’s “premium support” plan.

Pollsters asked whether respondents wanted to continue Medicare’s current defined benefit setup, in which the government pays a specified portion of all medical bills incurred by the patient, or switch to a plan in which seniors get government grants to buy health insurance, as Ryan advocates. Fifty-five percent of Republicans surveyed preferred the status quo – slightly more than the 53 percent of independents who gave the same response. Sixty-eight percent of Democrats also chose “Medicare should continue as it is today” as representing their views. The poll was done in late July and early August, before Romney announced Ryan as his choice.

In another poll, released today, KFF found that Republicans rated the cost of health care and Medicare as more important to their votes than the 2010 health law that generates so much scorn from Republican politicians. Jobs are still Republicans’ economic top worry. But when asked how health issues would affect their vote, two-thirds of GOP respondents said the cost of health care and insurance is extremely or very important. Six in 10 Republicans said Medicare is important, while 54 percent gave the Affordable Care Act the same weight. Most of those interviews were also done before Romney picked Ryan.

Among all respondents, Medicare tied with the cost of health care as the top health issue, with 73 percent saying both would be important in how they vote, followed by the Medicaid program for the poor. In the KFF/Washington Post poll, jobs were the top economic issue among all those interviewed, with 63 percent of Democrats, 60 percent of independents and 55 percent of Republicans saying jobs were the top worry.

The KFF/Washington Post poll surveyed 3,130 adults from July 25 to Aug. 5 and has a margin of error of +/- 2 percentage points.  The KFF tracking poll surveyed 1,208 adults from Aug. 7 to 12 and has a margin of error of +/- 3 percentage points.

4 Responses to “Don’t Change Medicare, Most Republicans Say In Poll”

  1. Harry says:

    The question is, are they even listening? Seems to me that the Republican Party I have known for many decades has radically changed since 2010. The voices of moderates like me don’t count any longer. We have been dismissed as traitors to the conservative cause. I’m among those that think Medicare is a good program that is worth being fixed and sustained as is. Does Medicare have problems? Yes, it does. But taking Medicare private and allowing Wall Street firms to take control of it would be a huge mistake. The trouble today is, Republicans in Congress have been taken hostage by a few extreme right-wing radicals that have one motive. To obstruct. They do not represent me and most of my fellow moderates in the GOP. Sadly, they represent a very small group of Republicans that have lost their way.

  2. Larry Senechal says:

    I agree with you Harry.

    The question becomes what are you planning to do about it in November to prevent continued gridlock in Congress and avoid the country going off the cliff at the time when we have so many critical National problems to deal with requiring serious open and civil debate. This requires adult behavior and a willingness by both parties to compromise for the good of the country not a partisan ideology to which a minority subscribe.

  3. wm says:


  4. Allan Z says:

    Changes to Medicare are inevitable. They can be debated now and implemented or we can wait until the system crashes. The cost of Medicare is not sustainable. The healthcare law expanded coverage to all citizens but did nothing to control runaway costs. Until there is competition by health insurers in the Medicare market and an understanding by the consumer as to what healthcare really costs there cannot be any real change. One model to consider for Medicare would be the HSA model which is gaining popularity in both individual and group health insurance. The insured pay the cost of medical care up to the deductible and then the carrier pays the difference. Because the insured is responsible for the initial deductible they will shop and compare costs for medical procedures rather than going to a medical provider regardless of cost.
    Doctors and medical providers are facing a 27% reimbursement reduction. This is pending in Congress and if approved will cause Doctors and medical professionals to leave the Medicare system. Add to that the 30+ million people that will become part of the healthcare system beginning in 2014 and you have a scenario where there will not be enough providers. This is a major issue!
    Because of the political cost of making changes to the Medicare system, politicians, both Democrat and Republicans, don’t make the hard decisions necessary to make the Medicare system sustainable in the long term.