The Corner

Poll: Public Split on Medicare Reform

An extensive new tracking poll by the Kaiser Family Foundation brings — despite the press-release headline ”Few Seniors Support GOP Plan to Restructure Medicare” — another helping of relatively favorable results for Republicans.

First, to explain that headline, which liberal blogs have not surprisingly been trying to make hay over. The poll asked respondents to pick one of two options regarding “what Medicare should look like in the future.”

Here’s the first option: “Medicare should continue as it is today, with the government providing health insurance and guaranteeing the same set of benefits to everyone enrolled in the program.”

And the results:

Total

 

Democrats

Independents

Republicans

 

Ages 18-39

Ages 40-54

Ages 55-64

Age 65+

50%

 

63%

46%

41%

 

48%

44%

48%

62%

The second option: “Medicare should be changed to a system in which people choose their insurance from a list of private health plans that may offer different benefits at different premium amounts and the government pays a fixed amount (sometimes called a voucher) towards that cost.”

Results:

Total

 

Democrats

Independents

Republicans

 

Ages 18-39

Ages 40-54

Ages 55-64

Age 65+

46%

 

34%

49%

55%

 

48%

51%

49%

30%

First of all, I don’t think it should come as a surprise to anyone that the 65+ age bracket answered the way it did. These are individuals currently on Medicare, so it’s understandable that they wouldn’t want to see any changes to the program “in the future” if they thought those changes could affect them. Of course, under the Ryan plan, nothing about Medicare will change for anyone older than 55 — but Democrats have been insinuating otherwise.

The far more interesting figures are those for the other age groups, particularly the 40–54 bracket, which would be the first to experience the effects of the Medicare reforms outlined in the GOP budget. They prefer a premium-support model by a seven-point margin.

#more#The poll also asked whether respondents would “support major spending reductions, minor spending reductions or no reductions at all as a way to reduce the federal deficit” for the following programs:

 

NO reductions

MINOR reductions

MAJOR reductions

SOME reductions (major/minor)

Social Security

62%

27%

9%

36%

Medicare

57%

32%

10%

42%

Medicaid

50%

35%

12%

47%

Food stamps

37%

39%

22%

61%

Unemployment insurance

36%

41%

21%

62%

Defense

35%

40%

22%

62%

Clean energy

35%

36%

28%

64%

Expansion of insurance coverage under the health care law

31%

32%

29%

61%

Aid to farmers

29%

46%

21%

67%

Biomedical research

27%

45%

23%

68%

Salaries/benefits for federal employees

25%

34%

38%

72%

Funding for Afghanistan conflict

20%

28%

48%

76%

Foreign aid

11%

30%

56%

86%

Other polls have shown that the public is generally uncomfortable with the concept of “cutting” or “reducing” entitlement spending, but these results — 42 percent supporting some sort of reductions to Medicare and 47 percent supporting reductions to Medicaid — don’t seem all that disconcerting (especially when the questions never include the option: “OR would you rather the programs go bankrupt?”).

Going down the list, it’s clear that, in general, the default Democratic position — “no reductions” — is simply untenable at this point. Even in areas in which the president has constantly pushed for additional “investment” — clean energy and biomedical research — the public would rather see reductions. Strikingly, more than 60 percent support reductions related to the roll-out of Obamacare.

The Left may try to manufacture outrage over the Republican budget, but it’s the free-spending liberal agenda that the public is fed up with.

Andrew StilesAndrew Stiles is a political reporter for National Review Online. He previously worked at the Washington Free Beacon, and was an intern at The Hill newspaper. Stiles is a 2009 ...

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