Short Takes On News & Events

Americans Want Deficit Addressed Without Medicare Cuts, Poll Finds

By Mary Agnes Carey

January 24th, 2013, 1:04 PM

Most Americans want quick action to reduce the deficit, but almost six in 10 oppose cutting Medicare spending to achieve that goal, according to a new poll released today.

Lawmakers should examine other alternatives, including requiring drug makers to give the government “a better deal” on medications for low-income seniors (85 percent) and making higher-income seniors pay more for coverage (59 percent), according to the survey conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard School of Public Health. (KHN is an editorially independent program of the Kaiser Family Foundation.)

More than seven in 10 Democrats, independents and Republicans say that if the President Barack Obama and Congress made the “right changes,” they could reduce the deficit without making major cuts to Medicare.  Just over half (51 percent) oppose raising the Medicare eligibility age from 65 to 67, an idea discussed by both parties on Capitol Hill, and 85 percent oppose requiring all seniors to pay higher Medicare premiums.

Forty-six percent of those surveyed said they would not accept any reductions to Medicaid, the federal-state insurance program for the poor which has been a big target of Republican lawmakers.  Those percentages are largely unchanged from two years ago, “suggesting the past year of debate over the need to make cuts had not greatly altered the general shape of public opinion,” the survey found.

As millions of baby boomers are becoming eligible for Medicare, the president and congressional lawmakers face tough choices about whether and how to rein in spending on federal health care programs to help reduce the deficit.

In his inauguration speech, Obama said that America must make “hard choices to reduce the cost of health care and the size of our deficit,” even as he defended entitlement programs. “The commitments we make to each other — through Medicare and Medicaid and Social Security — these things do not sap our initiative. They strengthen us,” Obama said.

The survey, conducted in early January after lawmakers resolved the “fiscal cliff” standoff, found that the public wants Obama and Congress to act to reduce the deficit, rather than waiting for a stronger economic recovery.

The support for quick action comes from Republicans (74 percent), independents (71 percent) and Democrats (57 percent), as well as seniors (73 percent) and non-seniors (63 percent).

The poll also found bipartisan support for implementing some provisions of the 2010 health care law. Fifty-five percent said it was a high priority for their state to create new online health insurance marketplaces under the law, to help people buy coverage. Support for exchanges cut across party lines, with 60 percent of Democrats, 55 percent of Republicans and 49 percent of independents backing the idea.

“Governors are largely splitting along partisan lines on the exchanges, but the public is not,” Drew Altman, president and chief executive officer of the Kaiser Family Foundation, said in a statement. “People like the idea.”

The survey found that 52 percent of Americans also think their state should implement the health law’s expansion of eligibility for Medicaid, while 42 percent did not.   Support for the Medicaid expansion, expected to extend coverage to as many as 17 million people, varied by party, however, with most Republicans (66 percent) preferring to keep the program as  it is, and most Democrats (75 percent) supporting expansion.

The poll, conducted from Jan. 3 through Jan. 9, surveyed 1,347 adults and has a margin of error of +/- 3 percentage points.

This article was produced by Kaiser Health News with support from The SCAN Foundation.

4 Responses to “Americans Want Deficit Addressed Without Medicare Cuts, Poll Finds”

  1. Sally says:

    That’s easy…

    Over 20 cents of every tax dollar collected goes to Defense and International Security Assistance. The Defense budget is never audited. Republicans in Congress tell us it’s way too hard to audit such a massive budget like the Defense budget. That’s BS! The fact of the matter is, Republicans don’t want to audit the Defense budget because they want to protect the weapons industry. Republicans would rather concentrate on cutting the Medicare, Medicaid and CHIP budgets which, all put together, do not equal the massive Defense budget. Until Republicans admit that we have outrageous abuses in the Defense budget and until Republicans agree to funding a much smaller and much smarter and much more technically advanced Department of Defense (DOD), we will never get a balanced budget deal. The polls show that Americans overwhelmingly want Medicare, Medicaid and the CHIP program protected and made fiscally sustainable well into the future. To do that, the polls show and the recent election shows that they agree with the Obama agenda to make the Defense Department of much more accountable, much more modern and much more effective. We are still in the 1940′s when it comes to funding the DOD. Modern warfare is not like it was during WW2. We don’t have invasions like Normandy. We don’t have front lines and Berlin Walls like we did during the Cold War. Today, we fight elusive enemies. Today, we fight terrorists that vanish after they attack. We need to be smarter than this elusive enemy. We need more stealth. We need more advanced technology. We need less boots on the ground and more drones in the air. We watch George W. Bush get us into two unfunded WW2 style wars. We lost both! Obama is smarter than George W. Bush and Donald Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney. If it’s up to Obama and Chuch Hagel, we will not fight WW2 style wars ever again. We will not send over 4,000 American troops to their doom. Obama and Biden and Hagel are much smarter that the dopes we had under George W. Bush. So, if we want to address the deficit without cuts to Medicare, we need to begin to audit the bloated Defense budget. That’s why Obama selected Chuck Hagel to run the DOD. Chuck Hagel will weed through the excess and the abuse in the DOD and get rid of needless programs that nobody wants anyway.

  2. Ruth Fish says:

    I totally agree with this response. We do need the DOD audited. Yes, we need to look at the weapons industry but also the loop holes that are given to defense contractors who are definitely ripping off the taxpayers. There could be huge savings right there!
    We need the best technology and the smartest techniques to be able to fight the terrorist groups today. We don’t need to be involved in another huge war where our men and women will be in harms way. Chuck Hagel understands this so well.
    Medicare ,SS and Medicaid are not the problem. The ACA was able to find over $700,000 in savings alone in Medicare. We must investigate,audit and rein in the budget of the DOD first in order to see what needs to be cut.

  3. Mark Anderson says:

    Medicare, and healthcare in general, could do a lot to reduce the overall cost. After working in the healthcare industry for over thirty years, even least observant professional can see wasteful practices any day. Then when investigators uncover fraud it is apparent that there is an corrupt system within the healthcare industry that steals benefits from Medicare and other payers.

    I am not in favor of reducing Medicare benefits, only ensuring that the available funds actually help care for the designated beneficiaries.

  4. Daisy says:

    The Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB) is a fifteen-member United States Government agency created in 2010 by sections 3403 and 10320 of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) which has the explicit task of achieving specified savings in Medicare without affecting coverage or quality. Republicans like to call it the “Death Panel”. Why? Because the PPACA is a virtual copy of an idea that was originally dreamed up by the ultra-conservative Heritage Foundation back in the 1990′s. Mitt Romney like the Heritage Foundation idea and the idea of having an individual mandate that he got it passed and enacted in Massachusetts when he was the Governor. Republicans hate to admit it, but they originally dreamed up the PPACA. Why are they so angry about Obamacare? Because it was originally their idea but they never got credit for it. Obama did! They really hate the fact that President Obama got credit for an idea that was originally theirs. So, that is why Republicans want to repeal Obamacare. It’s the only reason. That’s why they call the IPAB a death panel. Republicans will say anything to repeal Obamacare even if it was originally their own idea. That is why Republican Governor Bobby Jindal (R-LA) recently said that, if the GOP ever wants to win back the Oval Office, they need to stop being the stupid party. They need to stop being the vaginal probe party. They need to stop saying that women have a natural defense mechanism against getting pregnant during a “legitimate rape”. Republicans have a whole host of stupid ideas like that. That’s exactly why they are the party of stupid.