Poll: 58% Oppose GOP Plan On Medicare

Further evidence today that the GOP is losing the public relations war over the Ryan Plan and Medicare:

A new national poll indicates that a majority of Americans don’t like what they’ve heard so far about congressional Republicans’ plans to change Medicare.

According to a CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey, a majority also don’t think the GOP has cooperated enough with President Barack Obama and, for the first time since they won back control of the House last November, the number of Americans who say that Republican control of the chamber is good for the country has dropped below the 50 percent mark.

The poll indicates that 58 percent of the public opposes the Republican plan on Medicare, with 35 percent saying they support the proposal. The survey’s Wednesday release comes as the president met with House Republicans to discuss, among other things, Medicare reform.

(…)

“Half of those we questioned say that the country would be worse off under the GOP Medicare proposals and 56 percent think that GOP plan would be bad for the elderly,” says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. “Opposition is highest among senior citizens, at 74 percent, suggesting that seniors are most worried about changes to Medicare even if those changes are presented as ones that would not affect existing Medicare recipients.”

“A majority of all demographic groups don’t favor the GOP Medicare proposals,” Holland adds. “That includes conservatives – 54 percent of them don’t like the plan. As a result, rank-and-file Republicans are split right down the middle, with 48 percent favoring the GOP plan and 50 percent opposed.”

Poll results like this, combined with electoral events like the outcome in last weeks special election in NY-26 and the fact that several Republican Senators voted against teh Ryan Plan last week, guarantee that the Democrats are unlikely to back down in budget negotiations on this issue. So, Republicans would seem to have three  choices:

  1. Either they need to find a way to turn these numbers around and convince the public that the reforms they are proposing are necessary and will not cause the harm feared;
  2. The issue of Medicare will be punted until after the 2012 elections; or,
  3. They GOP eventually have to give in on Medicare, perhaps after extracting budget cuts in other areas.

Right now, I am guessing that it’s the second option that is the most likely.

 

FILED UNDER: Congress, Deficit and Debt, Public Opinion Polls, Quick Takes, US Politics, ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Barry says:

    Doug: “Further evidence today that the GOP is losing the public relations war over the Ryan Plan and Medicare:”

    Considering that the GOP plan is basically to whittle Medicare down to a toothpick, while cutting taxes on the rich, ‘losing the public relations war’ = ‘not keeping the truth under wraps’.

  2. michael reynolds says:

    What’s so amazing about these numbers is that the Democrats haven’t even cranked up the PR machine yet. I’m not seeing any ads, and God knows the Dems don’t have anything the equal of Fox or talk radio which have been pushing hard for Ryan.

    I think everyone needs to understand that the American people accept as an article of faith that old folks in particular, but all Americans as well, have a right to health care. (I’m using the term “right” because it’s easy and you know what I mean.)

    So the discussion going forward needs to start with that predicate. Given that health care is a “right” how do we best secure it. That conversation has a future. A conversation that starts with “No, it’s not a right,” or, “We’ll throw old people on the tender mercies of Aetna and Blue Cross,” isn’t going anywhere.

    There is no Libertarian way forward, and there is no hard right way forward. There are various degrees of liberal.

  3. Moosebreath says:

    “The issue of Medicare will be punted until after the 2012 elections”

    I am not disagreeing that this may be the least bad option for Republicans. I am just not sure how you get from here to there.

    The Republicans seem to have drunk their own Kool-Aid and want to make this an issue, including explicitly tying debt relief to it. But even if they put the genie back into the bottom, what incentive do Democrats have to cooperate? There are scores of freshmen Republicans who voted for the Ryan budget. Any reasonably competent Democratic campaign will be tying them to the Medicare portions of that budget, in exactly the same way as was done in NY_26 last month.

  4. Michael says:

    This site is soooo predictable. You put up a trash poll from CNN. Typical.

  5. Michael,

    Show me a single poll showing a majority supports the Ryan Plan.

    I happen to think that Medicare reform is necessary. The GOP is failing to convince the pubic of that

  6. wr says:

    Trash poll = something Michael doesn’t want to hear.

  7. mattb says:

    @Michael nails it:

    I think everyone needs to understand that the American people accept as an article of faith that old folks in particular, but all Americans as well, have a right to health care. (I’m using the term “right” because it’s easy and you know what I mean.)

    Cynically — without getting into either policy — the Dems have started to run the 2010 Republican playbook: any change to Medicare = Death.

    Whether this is about “death panels” or “mediscare” both sides played the same fear card. And both will use the exact same justification: “Trust me: it’s in there.”

    The fact is that very few mainstream Americans (and that includes a chunk of the core Tea Party people) can say what it means for Medicare to fail. Think banks were “too big to fail”? You ain’t seen nothing yet.

    That said, everyone of them can imagine either a family member or themselves being turned down for medical care — either because of a bureaucratic decision (Death Panel) or because they are not covered/can’t pay (insurance/Ryan).

    Correct or incorrect, Michael is totally spot on: medical care has become an assumed right.

    And, to Dave S. and others points, the issue that I think the Average American understands is that costs continue to go up while level of care remains largely the same. And that is why the Ryan plan will not sell.

  8. mattb says:

    Final point: In mass politics (like a democracy), emotion always trumps logic. Death Panels scared people because explaining them took too much time. The Ryan Plan scares people because explaining it to them takes to much time.

    Likewise this is fundamentally the Budget issue — beyond grafts/pork/etc — very few people (outside of extremists… i.e. Glenn Beck or Coast-to-Coast fans) can imagine the US failing). And even with the Tea Party, it’s not so much that the US is going to fail, but rather a fear that in their retirement years, the country is going to go through significant changes that make it unfamiliar.

    On a side note — I’m guessing that this has been published elsewhere — I think it’s no coincidence that the rise of the Tea Party movement comes alongside the impending retirement of the Baby Boomers. There are a hell of a lot of people out there who just want the US to stay the same until they die (after that you can make all the hard decisions and solve all the problems).

  9. John Burgess says:

    The poll is a great example of why we have representative democracy rather than direct democracy.

  10. anjin-san says:

    Given the plummeting approval of republicans in congress and newly minted GOP governors, waiting for 2012 may not be much of an option for the right.

    The hard reality is that the GOP has already spent the political capital gained in the midterms, and they have nothing to show for it.

    Democrats know Medicare needs reform – they will deal, but the GOP position has to be something other than “burn it down”.

    So do you guys want to sit down and try to come up with a compromise that works, or do you want to sit on your hands and gaze longingly at a photo of bahner’s power strut through the halls of congress last fall, thinking wistful thoughts about your oh so brief day in the sun?

  11. Patrick T. McGuire says:

    A new national poll indicates that a majority of Americans don’t like what they’ve heard so far about congressional Republicans’ plans to change Medicare.

    They don’t like “what they have heard so far”. Perhaps they have been misinformed, or not fully informed? If they get their info from the MSM, it’s not surprising that they don’t like what they hear.

    And if they don’t like this plan, which plan do they support? It’s easy to be against something without having to come up with an alternative.

  12. mattb says:

    @Partick:

    They don’t like “what they have heard so far”. Perhaps they have been misinformed, or not fully informed? If they get their info from the MSM, it’s not surprising that they don’t like what they hear.

    Again, exactly what the Democrats were saying Summer of 2010. See a pattern?

    And if they don’t like this plan, which plan do they support? It’s easy to be against something without having to come up with an alternative.

    Again, Michael’s point: don’t screw with it. Regardless of what people say, it cannot fail. (I’m saying that is the prevailing point of view of the average person)

    The challenge is that the moment either side doesn’t like the other’s solution, all they have to say is “death/end-of-medicare” and everything shuts down. Emotion trumps logic in the short term and currently we’re running on a short term (every two-year) political cycle.

    Medicare and entitlements continue to be the poisoned-bill/third rail. The only way they will be resolved is either through epic compromise or, at this moment, the majority of legislators being willing to “take one for the team” and honestly risk re-election. Which means that they’ll have to be true believers, and most likely the least interested in compromise.

    this is why, ultimately, we’re most likely going to go to a modified single payer system — medicare is simultaneously too big to fail and too big to reform.

  13. Terrye says:

    Well, it is a CNN poll. I noticed that they gave Barack Obama a 54% approval rating in spite of the fact that he did not actually garner majority approval on anything other than foreign affairs.

    Come on, the only way that happens is if they over sample Democrats. Again.

    The thing is that the public hates Obamacare. They hate the medicare cuts in Obamacare. They hate tax increases. They hate cuts in benefits. They are like Mikey, they hate everything.

    I think that if the Republicans do a better of job of explaining their plan it could improve the numbers. Such as the fact that they also include an additional $7800 for low income people. However, one thing is for sure…sooner or later something has to be done. The Democrats can only lie about the issue and demagogue it for so long.

  14. michael reynolds says:

    this is why, ultimately, we’re most likely going to go to a modified single payer system — medicare is simultaneously too big to fail and too big to reform.

    I’ve actually wondered whether Mr. Obama saw this early on and took half a loaf expecting to get the rest soon enough.

    This is one of those points in history when we need a government of grown-ups ready to sit in a smoke-filled room, negotiate secure in the knowledge that they can rely on each other to at least keep their word, then walk out to face the public like men (and women) and say, “Look, you’re probably not going to like this, but this is how it is.”

    Unfortunately we don’t even have the smoke-filled room, let alone the maturity and trust.

  15. michael reynolds says:

    The Democrats can only lie about the issue and demagogue it for so long.

    And how long can the Republicans go on pretending we don’t need a tax increase?

  16. Tano says:

    The thing is that the public hates Obamacare.

    Actually that is not true. The polls are pretty consistent. If you break down the simple approve/disapprove question and ask why people oppose, you find, consistently, that around 40-45% approve of Obamacare, 40% oppose it from the right, and 15% or so oppose it because it does not go far enough.

    You can interpret that as 60/40 opposition to Obamacare, but you can also legitimately interpret that as 60/40 support for the liberal position (Obamacare or something to the left of it) over the conservative position.

    That hardly adds up to “the public hates it”.

  17. Liberty60 says:

    Re: medical care as a “right”:

    Defining something as a “right” tends to lead off into the weeds of Constitutional rights, and ends up in an argument about a free lunch versus John Galt, which leads nowhere.

    I think it is better argued as a moral committment that a civilized society makes to itrs children and elderly, two groups who are weak and inacapable of fending for themselves.

    (pause for a second to explain- even wealthy and healthy old people are vulnerable to being incapacitated and impoverished- a single episode of cancer or other illness can wipe out even a comfortable retirement account)

    For those who like to argue that families should “take care of their own”, then I would modestly propose that we treat elder neglect like we do child neglect- that is, say, a elderly person is left destitute, we put their adult children in jail.

    Yeah, I know it is wildly impractical, but the point is, neglecting elderly and the sick should be seen as horrific a practice as neglecting children.

  18. michael reynolds says:

    Liberty:

    Not every old person has a family. Not every old person with a family has a family with sufficient means. I saw a report the other day (sorry, I don’t know where or have a link) that half of Americans could not readily put their hands on a thousand bucks cash. Let alone the 200,000 it might cost to deal with a major illness.

    So we shift the costs from the family that cannot cope, onto the state. Because the alternative is dropping the old folks off on the ice floe and letting the bears have them.

    Also: not that many bears around anymore.

  19. anjin-san says:

    When I hear people talking about the family taking care of everything, I have to wonder about how much life experience they have.

    My mother lives 10 minutes up the road, and 5 minutes from her hospital/medical offices. I have complete freedom to come and go as I please at work.

    We are also lucky that she is fairly well off. My wife and I spend about 20K a year on other relatives health issues and that has put a strain on our budget.

    In spite of these advantages, dealing with my mother’s health issues is no tea party.

    So what happens when the kids live in another state? When you can’t leave work or take extra time off for fear of losing your job? When you just don’t have that 50 bucks that dad needs for a co-pay?

    I hear Republicans saying “no one is talking about letting people die”. I disagree. I have two relatives who absolutely would be dead without government run health care.

  20. michael reynolds says:

    Details, Anjin, details.

  21. mattb says:

    I hear Republicans saying “no one is talking about letting people die”. I disagree. I have two relatives who absolutely would be dead without government run health care.

    Slight diversion on this topic — and why the system is too big to fail and too big to be fixed (aka… like it or not, single payer is the end game).

    A close friend and mentor of mine’s son, I’ll call him Bob, just died. Brain cancer… dead with two months of diagnosis. That diagnosis came within a week of his wife’s being declared cancer free.

    My understanding is what savings they had were depleted by the first cancer. Bob was an independent contractor without insurance.

    Sidestepping the issue of whether or not the cancer could have been detected and intercepted (it’s a particularly virulent form so chances are it would have made little difference), here’s the thing: the system simultaneously worked and failed at the same time.

    It worked in that Bob got care that he could not possible pay for. There was no “death panel.” Those two months were filled with heroic efforts (operations, etc) in an attempt to save his life from a cancer in the face of, statistically speaking, impossible odds. And, by all accounts, his incredibly compassionate doctors also were willing to tell the family that, after a certain point, there’s no more that’s medically possible and it’s time for hospice (which I guess is a “death panel” of sorts). To put it in context, he died shortly after the transfer.

    So it worked in that respect.

    But it failed in the respect that Bob is exactly the sort of person whose bankrupting the system. There is no way the hospital will ever be reimbursed for the expenditures that they put into this situation. If they go after the family it will basically push them into bankruptcy. Bob is, quite frankly, the problem as well.

    And, with tough economic times, even if we were to eject ever undocumented immigrant, we’re still facing an increasing number of “Bobs.” And, as the gap between middle and upper class grows, that means that more and more “average” Americans are going to either know a Bob or have a Bob in their family.

    Again, we saw how well “death panels” went over. I don’t see how the system can be saved without starting to deny coverage or treatment to “Bobs.” And as with other issues, the more people come to know “Bobs” the less likely they are to support this (and again, no average person can really imagine what it means for the system to fail). And, as many people have pointed out, if the cost of medical care continues to move in the direction its moving, then the problem is that the cost of those “Bobs” on the system is only going to stress things further.

    Medical Insurance, as we know it, will be gone within the next 15 years (note Medicare or is it SS is predicted to fail in ~2020)… I don’t see any realistic solution than a single payer system.

    I’m not sure if this is a good or a bad thing, but I think the sooner we start to debate how best to implement an “American” version of it, the better.

    ps. Michael… your guess about Obama and Single Payer is definitely in keeping with the argument that his long terms strategies should be read from a “community activist” POV.

  22. anjin-san says:

    Matt,

    This is all part of the problem. The system is designed to keep people alive until they are drained financially. I certainly watched it happen with my grandparents. When my grandfather had his second stroke, he was resuscitated in spite of a DNR order. He lived 8 more months, and he was miserable. But the convalescent hospital that resuscitated him billed my family about another 50k before he passed away. The system worked.

  23. mattb says:

    When my grandfather had his second stroke, he was resuscitated in spite of a DNR order.

    Same thing happened with my Father-in-law. To be fair to people on the floor, when someone flat-lines, especially ’round the time of second/third shift, people tend not to check orders before beginning resuscitation. The hell for the family come if the resuscitation is successful. I’m really sorry you went through that.

    In our case, one of the more surreal experiences was being in the ICU and attempting to prevent a feeding tube being put in and trying to get him off of a forced breathing machine. We were just attempting to follow his prescribed wishes (all in a legal document). That said we were basically made to feel like we were attempting to murder him — which was hell on my wife, who also was his proxy/power of attorney.

    Doctors, are to some degree, trapped between a rock and a hard place. As someone explained to me after the fact, this wasn’t simply about malpractice fears (at least with us that never entered into the equation)… the push back we got was a result of the number of families who, in our Doctors opinion, had attempted to “shuffle” burdensome relatives off this mortal coil.

  24. mattb says:

    The system is designed to keep people alive until they are drained financially.

    To my previous point, I have to get off the bus here. I think you’ve identified where things often end up, but you’ve diagnosed the wrong problem…

    The system is designed to sustain “life” (intentionally in quotes). And it’s become life at all costs, as we’re all not particularly comfortable with the entire idea of death. We want to have a definitive cause of death, and once that cause it named, its something to be overcome. Modern interpretations of various religious traditions have made things even more problematic. All of that then does get bound up in issues of insurance and benefits.

    The result is people often being denied the dignity of death on their own terms. And that is what leads to the radical economic drain.

    So, yeah, I agree with the problem, but not unlike Donald in that other thread, I think the rational is pretty far off — especially among the individual actors.

  25. jwest says:

    “Bob” is the reason there should be death panels.

    The only thing that will change the public’s perception of death panels and accept the futility of heroic efforts in cases like this is to highlight the physical and mental suffering of the procedures used along with their cost.

    Would “Bob” have been better off if the doctors had told him from the start that the situation was hopeless and that he would be given medication that would insure he would remain comfortable and at home until his eventual death? The only entity that came out of this situation well was the hospital and doctors, who will be paid the hundreds of thousands of dollars “Bob” used by cost shifting to younger and healthier patients.

    As it stands now, the public’s image of healthcare is that every asset should be thrown at every case, and that anything less is a cruel and heartless withholding of needed care. By showing the pain and humiliation terminal individuals go through instead of being allowed to die peacefully at home with their families, public opinion could be changed.

  26. mattb says:

    Jwest, I largely agree, but its a tough issue…

    The question is who should be responsible for making that decision?

    In Bob’s case, he was in his late forties with a young daughter. People are scared enough about the idea of a panel “putting down grandma,” how do you approach when we’re talking about a (relatively) young parent.

  27. jwest says:

    Mathematics makes the decisions. A nine member board would be in place to oversee the procedure and insure the process isn’t being manipulated.

    A team of medical advisors, statisticians and others would evaluate the success rate for procedures based on other factors including age, other illnesses and dozens of other variables. A point system would determine which procedures are funded for whom. Specific conditions can move up or down in the point system depending on advances in medical science or changes in the cost of the procedures.

    The actual mechanics of a system are relatively easy. The only hold back is public perception that no expense should be spared. Sometimes it’s the most compassionate thing to let a person die a dignified death.

  28. mattb says:

    Sometimes it’s the most compassionate thing to let a person die a dignified death.

    Agreed. Once you are admitted into a hospital — especially with the “dwindles” — it is all but impossible to enjoy that dignity. This also opens up the question of Physician Assisted Suicide/Euthanasia.

    As far as the panel model you layed out, from a rational standpoint, it makes sense. And, from what I’ve read has been largely supported by most medical ethicists.

    From an emotional standpoint — what’s underlying this entire debate — that scares the crap out of people (hence last summers “Death Panels”). On its face, it sounds like it goes against the “American” promise of self determinism.

  29. Wiley Stoner says:

    The country is in debt 14.5 trillion dollars. The unfunded liability of Medicare is something like 70 trillion dollars. Just how high do you plan on raising the taxes on the rich? Medicare as instituted was a ponzi schemed. Democrats buying votes, using future tax payer dollars. Until we see a donk plan, which will not happen because the whole purpose of what they are doing is to federalize healthcare (God Damned Socialists) which most states are pulling away from as it does not work as advertised, contrary to the lies which will follow this post.

  30. wr says:

    Hey Zels — Speaking of “lies,” are you finally willing to explain why you are willing to accept unemployment when you’re so opposed to government spending? Also, can you assure us that you will refuse all Medicare? Thanks.

  31. Terrye says:

    Another push poll..Ryan’s plan vs the Obama’s plan…what plan? Obama does not have a plan…the only plan that Obama has for medicare is the one where he cuts it by $500 billion in an effort to fund Obamacare..and by the way, the polls on Obamacare are even worse than this poll.

    Sooner or later, the Democrats are going to have come up with something or just let Medicare collapse. Maybe that is what they want.

  32. Terrye says:

    I can remember back in the 70s when they first started Medicare, it was supposed to top out at something like $ 12 billion dollars..and look at it now. Obama could at least talk about means testing, raising the retirement age, raising medicare taxes on working people as well as the wealthy..I don’t like that approach, but at least it is something. He is just literally refusing to do his job and the media is letting him get away with it..again.

  33. anjin-san says:

    I can remember back in the 70s when they first started Medicare

    Well, some of us remember back in the 60s when they first started Medicare. Say can you provide us some links to your posts slamming Bush for Medicare Part D? You know, the massive, unfunded expansion of Medicare by those sensible, fiscally responsible Republicans?

  34. anjin-san says:

    Physician Assisted Suicide/Euthanasia

    Something we need to take a real look at. Let people chose to end their own lives with dignity if they choose, avoiding needless suffering, and yes, cost.

    The government’s message on this topic seems to be “your life belongs to us, not to you”.