The current Administration would do well to realize its support for doing nothing to Medicare is soft and that many Americans, when given the facts, are willing to consider reforms proposed by House Republicans.
In yet another example of the failed policies of this Administration, the most recent Kaiser Family Foundation poll with a focus on Medicare paints a picture of what Americans are thinking about Medicare reform and it’s not looking good for the president down the road.
First, it’s important to realize Americans are paying attention in very large numbers. When asked which health care issues will be important to your vote for president this fall, a whopping 94 percent said Medicare is important to their vote.
When asked whether Medicare should “continue as it is today” a majority said they want to “keep Medicare as is.” On the surface, it seems discouraging for proponents of reform.
The proverbial elephant in the room, however, for the majority who favor no change is the small fact that the Medicare program to which survey participants are referring no longer exists thanks to the president’s government takeover of health care law.
With regard to dollars and cents, the president and Democrats looted the program on the order of $575 billion to pay for new coverage expansions and entitlements we cannot afford.
There are also structural reasons why Medicare “as we know it” no longer exists.
As explained by the Heritage Foundation, “Obamacare’s tinkering with the current program…essentially end[s] Medicare as we know it…by replacing the existing fee-for-service (FFS) payment system, the heart of traditional Medicare, with top-down payment and delivery schemes…. Obamacare…centralizes power in its Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB), an unelected board that has power to recommend payment cuts that automatically go into effect unless Congress intervenes. The IPAB’s actions are subject to neither administrative nor judicial review. Simply imposing more provider payment cuts will just mean less access to care for seniors, as more providers stop taking Medicare beneficiaries.”
Republicans also want to modify the current system but not with top-down controls; rather with choice and competition for guaranteed coverage.
So Kaiser poll respondents may already have a vague notion that keeping the Medicare status quo is, in fact, no longer an option. This may explain why the majority who want to leave Medicare alone are willing to consider alternatives when given more information.
When told that without reforms like those proposed by House Republicans “costs will be unsustainable and the program will go bankrupt” many more respondents say they could be swayed to favor reforms. If so, a majority of Americans could favor reforms proposed by House Republicans if only the American people were told the truth about Medicare’s dismal future.
Of note, another statistic in the Kaiser poll which could be informing these new numbers is the percentage of poll respondents who believe seniors will be better off under the president’s government takeover of health care law: only 36 percent in February 2012; 28% lower than when the question was first asked in 2009.
Bottom line: Americans, when given the facts, are willing to consider the significant reforms necessary to protect and preserve the Medicare program for today’s seniors and future generations.