Strong Opposition to Medicare Changes

Voters are reluctant to accept cuts to the popular health insurance program.

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Most voters support only modest changes to Medicare. Several recent surveys have found that Americans don’t want to see major cuts to the government health insurance program for retirees.

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A majority of Americans (61 percent) say Medicare benefits are worth the cost of the program for taxpayers, according to a New York Times and CBS News poll of 1,224 people released this week. Far more people support raising Medicare taxes on people paying into the system (56 percent) than reducing benefits for Medicare recipients (28 percent). And 76 percent of the survey respondents think providing health care coverage for the elderly is the federal government’s responsibility.

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But many citizens (57 percent) also admit that it will be necessary to make changes to Medicare in order to reduce the federal budget deficit, CBS News found. When asked about four possible changes to the Medicare program, survey respondents overwhelmingly preferred increasing the premiums high-income Medicare recipients pay (49 percent) compared to raising the age people start receiving Medicare benefits (24 percent), increasing the premiums all Medicare recipients pay (11 percent), and covering fewer treatments (5 percent). When given a choice between cutting one of the three largest items in the federal budget, far more people chose to reduce military spending (45 percent) rather than cut Medicare (21 percent) or Social Security benefits (17 percent).

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Other surveys conducted earlier this month have found similar results. A Washington Post and ABC News survey of 1,001 adults found that 78 percent oppose cutting Medicare spending. Voters largely prefer that Medicare remain as it is today with a defined set of benefits (65 percent) to changing the entitlement into a voucher program that people over 65 would use to shop for their own private health insurance policy (34 percent). A Gallup and USA Today poll of 1,004 adults also confirmed that less than a third of Americans (31 percent) support a complete overhaul or major changes to the Medicare program, while 61 percent say the government should make only minor or no changes to Medicare.

Twitter: @aiming2retire