The April Kaiser Health Tracking Poll shows that, even among a group of respondents that lean Democratic by 15 points, support is divided right down the middle between leaving Medicare as it is and reforming it as Paul Ryan and the House of Representative have proposed.
Kaiser asked a group of people, nearly half of whom lean Democratic (49 percent) and barely over a third of whom lean Republican (34 percent), the following question (#14):
“Which of these two descriptions comes closer to your view of what Medicare should look like in the future?
“OPTION A: Medicare should continue as it is today, with the government providing health insurance and guaranteeing the same set of benefits to everyone enrolled in the program.
“OPTION B: Medicare should be changed to a system in which people choose their insurance from a list of private health plans that may offer different benefits at different premium amounts, and the government pays a fixed amount towards that cost.”
In response, 49 percent said that they favor leaving Medicare as it is, while 49 percent said that they favor Ryan’s proposal.
Importantly, this question was asked before President Obama really began his attacks on the GOP plan. Also importantly, however, this question neglects to mention that anyone who is at least 55 years old would not be affected by these reforms, which no doubt substantially reduced the level of support for these reforms among seniors.
To put this poll’s 15-point tilt toward Democrats into perspective: that’s the margin by which President Obama won New Jersey in 2008. When a group that leans Democratic that heavily is nevertheless split right down the middle on the merits of a bold new Republican proposal, you know the Republicans are onto something.