The news that some key Republicans are now making changes to Medicare a condition of raising the debt ceiling should come as no surprise: apart from the upset election of a Democrat in New York 26 last month, various polls show Republicans taking a beating on Rep. Paul Ryan’s plan that that would effectively replace the current Medicare model with a voucher plan.
And a new CNN poll underscores the GOP’s growing problem: a majority of Americans are opposed to the Ryan plan — and that includes a hefty proportion of conservatives and Republicans:
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.
This makes it a bit more clear why in yesterday’s meeting with Obama Ryan accused Obama of “demoguging” the plan. Ryan most assuredly believed what he said but also is not blind to how his proposal is playing out in poll after poll. MORE:
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.
The House Republican 2012 budget, authored by Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, passed the chamber in April without a single Democratic vote and included a proposal to overhaul Medicare. Under the plan, the government would no longer directly pay medical costs for those 55 and younger, but instead would offer subsidies for seniors to use to get private health insurance coverage.
“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.”
The poll is another sign that the House Republicans’ Medicare proposal could be politically damaging to the party. Last week the Democrats won a special election to fill a vacant House seat in New York’s 26th congressional district, which the GOP held for over a generation. The Ryan Medicare plan became a major issue in the race, with both the Democratic and Republican candidates, the party committees and outside organizations spending millions of dollars to run ads that focused on Medicare.
So several factors are at play here. One is the issue about what the Ryan plan would mean to quality and affordable health care for seniors, as EJ Dionne discussed here. And the other is the political issue coupled with the debt ceiling issue as discussed HERE.
Joe Gandelman is a former fulltime journalist who freelanced in India, Spain, Bangladesh and Cypress writing for publications such as the Christian Science Monitor and Newsweek. He also did radio reports from Madrid for NPR’s All Things Considered. He has worked on two U.S. newspapers and quit the news biz in 1990 to go into entertainment. He also has written for The Week and several online publications, did a column for Cagle Cartoons Syndicate and has appeared on CNN.