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U.S. Residents Want Debt Fix That Does Not Affect Entitlements, Poll Finds

Most U.S. residents want the Obama administration and federal and state lawmakers to develop a short-term solution to reduce the national deficit that does not affect federal entitlement programs -- like Medicare and Medicaid -- and education, according to a survey released Thursday by the Kaiser Family Foundation, Reuters reports (Morgan, Reuters, 1/24).

In addition, the majority of respondents identified the expansion of Medicaid and creation of health insurance exchanges in states under the Affordable Care Act as the top health care priorities at the state and federal levels (Zigmond, Modern Healthcare, 1/24).

Survey Details

The survey -- which KFF conducted between Jan. 3 and Jan. 9 in partnership with the Harvard School of Public Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation -- drew responses from 1,347 U.S. adults (Carey, "Capsules," Kaiser Health News, 1/24).

Survey Findings

According to the survey, two-thirds of the respondents said the 113th Congress must work to quickly reach a short-term deficit reduction deal, rather than wait until the economy improves. Of those respondents, 74% identified themselves as Republicans, 71% as independents and 57% as Democrats (Reuters, 1/24).

When asked about possible changes to Medicare and Medicaid as part of a deal, the survey found that:

  • 85% are against raising premiums for all Medicare beneficiaries;
  • 58% oppose any spending cuts in Medicare;
  • 51% are against raising the Medicare eligibility age from 65 to 67; and
  • 46% oppose any spending reductions in Medicaid.

More than seven in 10 respondents said that if President Obama and Congress make the "right changes," the deficit can be lowered without any effect on Medicare spending, Kaiser Health News' "Capsules" reports ("Capsules," Kaiser Health News, 1/24).

According to Reuters, the results of the survey could suggest that Obama -- who has vowed to protect Medicare and Medicaid -- has adequate public support as he prepares to resume negotiations with Republican leaders on a deficit reduction deal (Reuters, 1/24).

Survey Finds Majority Support Controversial ACA Provisions

The survey also found that 55% of respondents consider the creation of the ACA's insurance exchanges a "top priority" for states in 2013, while 52% favor expanding Medicaid in their state, Politico reports (Haberkorn, Politico, 1/25). Forty-two percent of respondents expressed opposition to the Medicaid expansion.

According to "Capsules," support for the exchanges cut across party lines, with 60% of Democrats, 55% of Republicans and 49% of independents backing the provision ("Capsules," Kaiser Health News, 1/24). Meanwhile, support for expanding Medicaid was split across party lines, with 75% of Democrats supporting the expansion and 66% of Republicans insisting that eligibility levels be left as they are (Howell, "Inside Politics," Washington Times, 1/24).

Respondents Identify Top Five Health Care Priorities

Survey respondents also were asked to name their top federal spending priorities from a list of 15 federal health care programs, which excluded Medicare, Medicaid and the ACA, Modern Healthcare reports.

The survey found that:

  • 60% of respondents named veterans' health care their top spending priority;
  • 59% identified addressing health problems related to natural or man-made disasters;
  • 52% named prevention of infectious diseases through research and vaccination programs; and
  • 51% said preventing chronic illness (Modern Healthcare, 1/24).
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