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Americans Support Medicare Reform, But Not on Their Dime: Poll
Date:4/27/2012

es' increasing use of services and the aging of the population are fueling the growth in Medicare spending.

"You've got a situation now where health care is somewhere around 18 percent of GDP (gross domestic product), and it's going to go to 20 percent in a few years," said Nathan Goldstein, chief executive officer of Gorman Health Group, a Washington, D.C.-based consulting firm. "It's like a dragon eating the economy from the inside."

The situation will only worsen in the coming years as more and more baby boomers become eligible for the program, swelling Medicare enrollment to more than 80 million people by 2030.

Because of these trends, the board of trustees that oversees Medicare's financial operations predicts that the hospital insurance trust fund, known as Medicare Part A and a key component of the program, will be depleted by 2024.

To put the program back on stable footing, policymakers are considering a variety of cost-cutting and revenue-raising strategies.

One proposal being advanced by House of Representatives Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) would give seniors a voucher to shop for their own private health insurance. Under their so-called "premium support" plan, Medicare would no longer provide a "defined benefit." Instead, beneficiaries would receive a "defined contribution" toward the cost of health insurance.

But support for such a plan depends on political affiliation, the poll found.

When described as "one proposal to change the Medicare program," a small plurality (32 percent to 27 percent) of those polled said they favor a voucher plan. When described as a House Republican plan, Republican support increases to 47 percent from 35 percent while Democratic opposition rises to 48 percent from 31 percent.

At a press briefing on Friday to unveil recommendations for Medicare reform, the American College of Physicians (ACP) said it could not endorse such a "premium
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