Should Medicare Change or Stay the Same? Most People Say——(click on the graphic for a link to a full view of the chart)
Kaiser Health Tracking Poll: August 2012
This poll, conducted as the GOP prepares for its national convention, finds that the Affordable Care Act is not the top health care priority among Republicans. While jobs are still the number one issue for Republicans, when asked about the health care issues that will impact their vote this fall, Republicans’ top concern was the cost of health care and insurance, named by two-thirds (67%) as either “extremely” or “very important” to their vote in Kaiser’s August Health Tracking Poll. Next on the list was Medicare, cited by six in ten Republicans (61%) as being important to their vote, while the 2010 health care law ranked third, at 54 percent. Most interviews in the August 7-12 poll were conducted before Governor Mitt Romney announced Representative Paul Ryan as his running mate on August 11th, which has led to a greater focus on Medicare in the news.
When it comes to Medicare, another recent Kaiser survey, conducted in partnership with The Washington Post and fielded from July 25 to August 5, finds that among Republicans a majority (55%) prefer the idea of keeping Medicare as it is rather than changing to a system in which seniors are guaranteed a fixed amount of money that could be used to purchase coverage “either from traditional Medicare or from a list of private plans.” Both Romney and Ryan have proposed converting Medicare into a premium support program, with the House Republican budget plan spearheaded by Ryan calling for such a change to begin in 2023.
Even though more than four in ten Republicans (44%) say they don’t yet have a “basic understanding” of what Governor Romney is proposing to do on health care if elected president, a majority (79%) believe his approach to health care would be different than that of President Barack Obama. And 80 percent of Republicans say they trust Romney to make the “right decisions” about the future of the ACA.
The August poll is the latest in a series designed and analyzed by the Foundation’s public opinion research team.
More Health Reform Data:
Kaiser Family Foundation Health Reform Source (great information with no political slant)
Alliance for Health Reform (good source of transcripts and data slides)
To get a better view of any of the following graphics, click on the graph or chart and it will link you to a Dropbox file where you can download the entire PowerPoint slide presentation from Rachel Garfield, Kaiser Commission on Medicaid and the Uninsured.
Health Care Debate
In June 2012, the Supreme Court largely let stand the Affordable Care Act — President Obama’s sweeping health care overhaul, in a mixed ruling that Court observers were rushing to analyze. The law, passed by Congress in March 2010, put in motion the creation of a nationwide insurance system that would sharply reduce the number of Americans without coverage, a goal that Democratic presidents had unsuccessfully pursued for 75 years.
The high court’s 5 to 4 decision was a striking victory for the president and Congressional Democrats, with a majority, including the conservative chief justice, John G. Roberts Jr., affirming the central legislative pillar of Mr. Obama’s term.
The court case had centered on the so-called individual mandate, a requirement that all Americans obtain health insurance or pay a fine. Republicans challenged it as an unconstitutional expansion of federal power. The Obama administration argued that it was needed to fix basic flaws in the insurance market and that it was crucial to provisions like the requirement that insurers accept all comers without regard to pre-existing health conditions.
The court’s decision did significantly restrict one major portion of the law: the expansion of Medicaid, the government health-insurance program for low-income and sick people. The ruling gives states some flexibility not to expand their Medicaid programs, without paying the same financial penalties that the law called for.
Even with the court’s decision, the debate over health care remains far from over, with Republicans vowing to carry on their fight against the law. The presumptive Republican presidential nominee, Mitt Romney, has promised to undo it if elected.
For more background on the Supreme Court decision and hearings, click here.
The Battle Continues
On July 11, less than two weeks after the Supreme Court decision, the House passed a bill to repeal President Obama’s health care law. The bill was approved by a vote of 244 to 185, with five Democrats supporting repeal.
It has no chance of approval in the Senate and would face a veto from Mr. Obama if it ever got to him. But the House debate exposed the depth of passion over efforts to remake the health care system and suggested that the fight would continue next year, regardless of who wins the November elections for president and Congress.
Republican governors and state legislators also began to plan a new approach that could have the effect of undercutting large parts of the law, which relies heavily on state governments for implementation.
Leaning on the Supreme Court’s ruling, the governors of Texas, Florida, Louisiana and South Carolina said they would reject the law’s proposal to expand Medicaid, and others said they were leaning toward rejecting it.
At the end of July, the Congressional Budget Office reported that the Supreme Court’s ruling on Medicaid — which essentially made its expansion optional for states — would probably mean that 3 million fewer people would be insured under the law.
The budget office predicted that six million fewer people will be insured by Medicaid. But half of them, it said, will probably gain private insurance coverage through health insurance exchanges to be established in all states. Even though the law calls for the government to spend more per person on subsidies for insurance bought through exchanges than on Medicaid, the changes would reduce the law’s cost by about 7 percent, or $84 billion between 2012 and 2022, the budget office said.