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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

TDS Founding Editor Ruy Teixeira: Public Wants to Keep Medicare the Same, Opposes Vouchers

New polling data indicates that the American Public strongly favors keeping Medicare the way it is and opposes turning Medicare into a voucher system, reports TDS Founding Editor Ruy Teixeira in his latest ‘Public Opinion Snapshot at the Center for American Progress web pages.

Last week we also received new polling on the issue and, as expected, the public continues to support keeping Medicare as it is today. Let’s start with their general support for keeping Medicare (or Social Security) benefits as they are: By 51 percent to 33 percent in a new Pew poll, the public thinks this goal is more important than taking steps to reduce the budget deficit.

Nor does the public have much sympathy for converting Medicare into a voucher system, explains Teixeira:

Moving on to the specific plan to turn Medicare into a voucher, the plan was tested by the recently released Washington Post/Kaiser poll. Respondents were given two choices: A) Medicare should continue as it is today, with the government guaranteeing all seniors the same set of health insurance benefits, or B) Medicare should be changed to a system in which the government guarantees each senior a fixed amount of money to help them purchase coverage either from traditional Medicare or from a list of private health plans. The public favored choice A, keeping Medicare the way it is today, by a strong 58-36 margin.

Teixeira acknowledges that conservatives are unlikely to abandon their voucher scheme, despite it’s weak public support. “But these data suggest that no matter how much they try to disguise the plan and make its changes sound benign, they are likely to meet a wall of public skepticism.” it appears that Democrats are on very safe political ground in their opposition to GOP voucher “reforms.”

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