A new Kaiser Foundation poll confirms (again) that the vast majority of Americans, of all political stripes, support Medicare and Medicaid and don’t want Washington to replace Medicare with CouponCare. Kaiser reports:
“A strong majority (70%) say that Medicare should continue to ensure all seniors get the same defined set of benefits. Far fewer (26%) say that the program should be changed to instead guarantee each senior a fixed contribution to the cost of their health insurance – a system known as premium support that has been proposed to address Medicare’s long-term financing challenges.
By at least two-to-one margins, majorities of Democrats, Republicans and independents favor keeping Medicare as is rather than changing to a premium support program. Adults under 65 years old are somewhat more likely than seniors to favor premium support (28% compared to 18%), though large majorities in all age groups prefer Medicare’s current structure.”
In spite of the American people’s strong support of Medicare, Republicans in Congress continue their campaign to end traditional Medicare and replace it with a voucher program that gives seniors a coupon they then have to use to try and buy their own health coverage. This plan would create a death spiral for traditional Medicare, make it harder for seniors to choose their own doctors while passing more costs to Americans so they’ll pay more for less coverage. The Congressional Budget Office has predicted the Ryan CouponCare Plan could cost seniors $20,000 more each year.
The Kaiser poll also found that Americans support reforms designed to improve Medicare’s long-term financial picture. The most popular reform; however, has consistently been ignored by this Republican controlled Congress.
“By far the most popular change to Medicare is allowing the federal government to negotiate with drug companies. Overall, 87% of the public supports such an option, including majorities of Democrats, Republicans and independents and across generations.
Smaller majorities favor increasing Medicare premiums for wealthier seniors (58%), which already occurs and was expanded earlier this year as part of Medicare’s physician payment reforms; and reducing payments to Medicare Advantage plans (51%). Fewer support raising Medicare’s age of eligibility from 65 to 67 (39%), raising premiums for all Medicare beneficiaries (31%), or increasing cost-sharing for future Medicare beneficiaries (24%).”
The vast majority of those polled (89%) want Medicare’s funding expanded or at least maintained. Which is in stark contrast to ongoing efforts in Congress to use Medicare as an ATM by cutting the program to pay for other items such as the Trade Agreement.
As we celebrate Medicare and Medicaid’s 50th Anniversary on July 30th it’s important we remain vigilant in support of these vital programs. That means constantly reminding Congress Medicare and Medicaid should be strengthened not cut.