The Republican plan to privatize Medicare may need life support.
In a Quinnipiac poll released Wednesday, a robust majority of registered voters disapproved of Rep. Paul Ryan’s (R-WI) proposal to privatize Medicare and cap spending on the program that provides health care assistance to the elderly. And further, a strong majority said they supported an alternate path toward deficit reduction: raising taxes on top income earners, a proposal the GOP leadership has said is a non-starter.
The poll asked respondents to choose between one of two statements:
A) Medicare should remain as it is today, with a defined set of benefits for seniors. OR B) Medicare should be changed so that seniors who join Medicare in 2022 receive a fixed amount of money from the government each year that they can use to shop for their own private health insurance policy
In response, 60% said Medicare should remain as it is, while only 34% said it should be changed in the ways pushed by Rep. Ryan.
In addition, the poll also found that 70% of voters opposed cuts to Medicare funding in general as a way to reduce the defciit, versus 27% who supported those cuts.
Further complicating the GOP’s position, just under seven in ten voters said they supported raising taxes on annual income above $250,000 — as President Obama and Democrats have suggested. Twenty-eight percent of voters said they did not suport such a tax increase.
Previous polls have also shown dangers for the GOP in pushing for a Medicare privatization plan. In a recent Washington Post/ABC News poll, 65% of adults said they opposed privatizing Medicare. And perhaps most difficult for Republicans, a McClatchy-Marist poll found that not only did a huge majority of all Americans oppose cuts to Medicare spending, but that 70% of tea partiers felt the same way.
The debate over Medicare is sure to be one of the most contentious issues as Congress reconvenes this week and the two parties resume debate over the federal budget and deficit. And based on early polls surrounding the issue, Democrats should have an easier time in selling their case to the American people.
The Quinnipiac poll was conducted April 26-May 1 among 1,408 registered voters nationwide. It has a margin of error of 2.6%.