Public polls in recent months have shown that most U.S. residents generally do not favor a GOP proposal to overhaul Medicare, but a new Kaiser Family Foundation poll found that younger voters are more receptive to the plan than older voters, Kaiser Health News reports (Rau, Kaiser Health News, 9/27).
The telephone survey of 1,534 adults was conducted between Sept. 13 and Sept. 19 (Adams, CQ HealthBeat, 9/27).
The GOP proposal -- which was developed by House Budget Committee Chair Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and included in the House-approved fiscal year 2013 budget proposal -- would transform Medicare into a premium support program, in which beneficiaries would receive a subsidy to help purchase either private coverage or traditional Medicare (California Healthline, 9/17).
According to the KFF poll, 37% of U.S. residents overall support switching to a premium-support model. However, 44% of respondents ages 18 to 54 favored such a switch, compared with 25% of respondents age 55 and older, according to the poll.
The difference of opinion between the age groups is "ironic" because those who are most opposed to the GOP plan would be least affected, according to KHN.
The poll found that voter views are "quite malleable" based on how the program is described to them. Between 14% and 19% were less interested in the GOP plan when it was described as:
- Shifting costs from the government to beneficiaries;
- Giving the insurance industry "too much influence" over beneficiaries' health care; or
- Turning Medicare into a "voucher" program that would end "traditional Medicare as we know it" (Kaiser Health News, 9/27).
Medicare More Important Than ACA to Voters
The poll also found that Medicare is the third-most critical election topic for voters, behind the economy and the federal budget deficit. About 36% of respondents listed the program as "extremely" important to their vote.
The health reform law ranked as the fourth most critical topic among voters -- tied with Medicaid and military spending, CQ HealthBeat reports.
Voters' Opinion of ACA Changing but Many Still Lack Knowledge of Law
Proponents of the ACA are likely to be encouraged by the poll, which found that voters are starting to view the health reform law more favorably. The poll found that about 45% of respondents view the ACA favorably, while 40% say they view it unfavorably -- compared with 38% who favored the law and 43% who opposed it in last month's poll (CQ HealthBeat, 9/27).
However, many voters still lack knowledge about some of the law's key components. For instance, fewer than half of respondents knew about a provision in the ACA that eventually closes the Medicare prescription drug coverage gap, known as the "doughnut hole" (Kaiser Health News, 9/27).