NORWALK, Conn., June 13, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — A new
poll finds little support for privatizing Medicare, even though
most people agree the government-sponsored health insurance program
for older Americans needs major changes if it is to survive.
Recently Medicare’s trustees indicated that funding to run the
Medicare program, which offers health insurance to an estimated 45
million Americans 65 and older, could run dry by 2024 unless
substantial cost-costing steps are taken.
Republican Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin unveiled a plan earlier
this year to reform Medicare by setting up “vouchers” —
subsidized by the federal government — that would enable
senior citizens to purchase health insurance from private companies
— hence “privatizing” the insurance. The proposal has
been criticized in many quarters.
According to today’s Harris Interactive/HealthDay poll, slightly
more than one in ten of the respondents supported the plan to
privatize Medicare. Overwhelmingly, the respondents felt the
program should be shored up, in part, by lowering the fees paid to
drug companies, hospitals and doctors — and not by raising
costs to consumers.
“While most people accept the argument that Medicare reform is
necessary to keep it affordable, only a few people think that these
changes should include privatizing Medicare, higher taxes or
increases in out-of-pocket spending,” said Humphrey Taylor,
chairman of The Harris Poll. “Cutting the prices and fees paid to
drug companies, hospitals and doctors are much more
Added Joe Baker, president of the Medicare Rights Center, a
nonprofit consumer service group that works for affordable health
care for older adults and people with disabilities: “The poll
basically tracks what we hear on our phone lines: people with
Medicare mistrust radical changes and they generally want the