Majority of Americans Do Not Favor Plans To Make Cuts to Medicaid
Sixty percent of U.S. residents want Medicaid to remain unchanged and just 13% prefer major cuts to the program as part of congressional efforts to address the federal deficit, according to a Kaiser Family Foundation poll, CQ HealthBeat reports (Reichard, CQ HealthBeat, 5/25).
The poll comes as lawmakers consider a proposal to overhaul Medicaid and privatize Medicare in the House-approved fiscal year 2012 budget resolution (H Con Res 34). Under the Medicaid proposal, states would receive fixed annual block grants of $11,000 per Medicaid beneficiary to use as they choose. The proposal is part of House Budget Committee Chair Paul Ryan's (R-Wis.) broader budget blueprint to lower federal spending by $6 trillion over a decade and repeal and defund the federal health reform law (California Healthline, 5/13).
The poll was conducted between May 12 and May 17, surveyed 1,203 adults and has a margin of error of plus or minus three percentage points.
According to the survey, 35% of respondents favored converting Medicaid into a block grant program. However, 44% favored doing so when the question stated that block grants would "help reduce the federal budget deficit and give states greater flexibility to tailor their Medicaid programs to match their residents' needs and their own state budgets."
Support for block grants declined to 25% when respondents were told that critics of the proposal say it would "increase the number of uninsured, increase financial pressure on states and health care providers, and cause more low-income people to go without health care and long-term services, particularly during tough economic times."
The poll also found:
- About 50% of respondents said a friend or family member had received assistance from Medicaid at some point, and 49% said the program is very or somewhat important to their family;
- 42% had a favorable opinion of the federal health reform law, while 44% have a an unfavorable opinion;
- By almost a two-to-one margin, respondents disapproved of cutting off funding for implementing the overhaul (CQ HealthBeat, 5/25);
- 79% of Democrats and 29% of Republicans said they preferred to keep Medicaid "as is";
- About one-third of respondents who have been enrolled in Medicaid said they have had problems finding a doctor, compared with 13% of those with private coverage; and
- 53% of seniors had an unfavorable opinion of the health reform law, while 36% favor it (Galewitz, Kaiser Health News, 5/25).