Polls Find Mixed Views on Medicare Proposals From GOP, Democrats

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A majority of U.S. adults who have heard of House Budget Committee Chair Paul Ryan's (R-Wis.) plan for Medicare dislike it, according to a poll by the Pew Research Center, Bloomberg/San Francisco Chronicle reports.

The poll -- which surveyed 1,005 adults between Aug. 16 and Aug. 19 -- found that 72% of respondents were aware of the plan by Ryan -- presumptive GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney's running mate -- to overhaul Medicare. Among those respondents, about 49% oppose it and 34% support it. Among respondents age 65 and older, 55% oppose ending traditional Medicare, compared with 24% who favor it.

The poll also found that:

  • 49% of respondents between ages 50 and 64 disapprove of ending traditional Medicare, compared with 35% who support the change;
  • 46% of respondents between ages 18 and 49 disapprove of ending traditional Medicare, compared with 38% who support the change;
  • 51% of respondents said it is more important to leave Medicare and Social Security unchanged than to lower the budget deficit; and
  • 48% of independent voters said it is more important to leave Medicare and Social Security unchanged than to lower the budget deficit, compared with 35% who disagree with the position (Salant, Bloomberg/San Francisco Chronicle, 8/28).

Obama Has No Advantage Over Romney on Medicare, Polls Find

Despite the low approval rating for Ryan's Medicare plan, President Obama has no advantage over Romney on the issue, according to two new polls, Atlantic Wire/National Journal reports.

A CNN/ORC International poll found that 49% of respondents trusted Obama more on the issue of Medicare, compared with 48% of respondents who trusted Romney more.

Meanwhile, a separate poll by ABC News/Washington Post found that 45% of respondents trust Romney more on the issue of health care for elderly residents, compared with 42% of respondents who trust Obama more.

According to Atlantic Wire/National Journal, Romney might have neutralized Obama's advantage on Medicare through a series of television advertisements focused on the issue (Reeve, Atlantic Wire/National Journal, 8/27).

Republican Official Expects Democrats To Pull Medicare Ads

On Monday, National Republican Congressional Committee Executive Director Guy Harrison predicted that Democrats will pull advertisements focused on Medicare within the next two weeks, Politico reports.

Harrison said Democrats will "stop talking about Medicare because they will have officially lost the issue" and "they know how bad ObamaCare is for them. It's the single issue that cuts with every single congressional district that we have" (Haberkorn, Politico, 8/27).

NRCC Attacks Democratic Candidates in New Ads

Meanwhile, NRCC on Monday launched a new ad attacking Michigan Democratic House candidate Gary McDowell for saying that end-of-life care costs are increasing and for his support of the federal health reform law, The Hill's "Healthwatch" reports.

The ad's narrator says that McDowell, who is running against Rep. Dan Benishek (R-Mich.), believes that "seniors cost too much at 'the end of life.'" The ad also charges that McDowell supports cutting Medicare by $716 billion under the health reform law (Viebeck, "Healthwatch," The Hill, 8/27).

The NRCC on Sunday also began airing a television ad aimed at North Carolina's 7th district incumbent Rep. Mike McIntyre (D), Roll Call reports. The ad focuses on McIntyre's vote against Ryan's budget proposal and says that McIntyre has voted against every plan to save Medicare from going bankrupt. The narrator continues that McIntyre's opponent, David Rouzer (R), "will preserve, protect and strengthen Medicare"(Miller, Roll Call, 8/27).

Boehner Predicts Victory, Cautious About Medicare Reform

House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) on Monday said he expects that Republicans will win a majority in Congress and take control of the White House, but he was cautious about tying a Republican victory to a mandate to make Medicare changes proposed by Ryan, the New York Times' "The Caucus" reports.

Boehner said "regardless of who wins the election" the nation's fiscal situation, driven by health care spending, will be a major issue in Washington next year (Weisman, "The Caucus," New York Times, 8/27).

Gregory Alterton
***49% of respondents between ages 50 and 64 disapprove of ending traditional Medicare, compared with 35% who support the change*** Is this the way the question was asked? "Do you approve of the ending of traditional Medicare?" So 49% are in support of maintaining the current program, as it is, without reform, and watch it go bankrupt in a few years.

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