GOP budget: Little support for changes to Medicare and Medicaid

March 23, 2015, 8:26 PM UTC

Americans tend to oppose proposed overhauling Medicare and Medicaid, but they also tend to think it's more important to balance the budget than to protect services

Last week Republicans in the House of Representatives laid out a budget proposal that would slash federal spending and fundamentally change some of the largest government programs. The budget would see Medicare, the federal health insurance plan for people aged 65 or older, turned into a federal subsidy to help people purchase private health insurance plans. Medicaid would be abolished and replaced with block grants to states, while federal spending on the military and education would be frozen, in addition to the wholesale repeal of the Affordable Care Act, commonly known as Obamacare.

YouGov's latest research shows that Americans tend to oppose rather than support the Republican budget plan to significantly alter how the federal government provides health insurance for over-65s and the poor. Only 19% of Americans support replacing the current Medicare system of federal health insurance for over-65s with federal subsidies to buy private health insurance, while 49% oppose it and 32% aren't sure. Only 25% support abolishing Medicaid and replacing it with block grants to states to let them decide how to provide health insurance for the poor, something 42% of Americans oppose.

Opposition to proposed changes to Medicare are largely the same regardless of political party. 47% of Republicans oppose their own party's plan to change Medicare into a private health insurance subsidy, along with 46% of independents and 54% of Democrats. Only 22% of Republicans support the proposal.

Republicans tend to support (41%) rather than oppose (30%) the proposed Medicaid changes, but opposition outweights support among independents (38% to 25%) and Democrats (57% to 15%). 

Despite widespread opposition to changes that could quickly cut federal spending, when asked in principle whether it is more important to balance the budget or protect government services, most Americans (56%) say that it's more important to balance the budget, while only 29% say that it's more important to maintain the same level of government services. Prioritizing a balanced budget over maintaining public services cuts across party lines, with Democrats who describe their ideology as moderate tending to say that it is more important to balance the budget (45%) than protect services (37%). Only liberal Democrats solidly say that it is more important to maintain government services (65%). Overall, Democrats do tend to support maintaining services (48%) to balancing the budget (37%)

<PDFs>