1:57pm

Thu June 30, 2011
Shots - Health Blog

Support For Medicare Cuts Depends On Where Savings Would Go

Medicare faces trouble as its costs for health care keep rising faster than money coming in to pay the bills. And then there's the overall debt of the federal government, which is also getting worse.

Federal belt-tightening seems to be pretty much inevitable.

But Americans' views on how to to save some money in Medicare vary a lot, depending on where the proceeds go, according to results of a tracking poll just released by the Kaiser Family Foundation.

Forty-five percent of Americans are fine with minor cuts in Medicare spending to help trim the federal deficit, for instance. Only 18 percent favor major cuts for deficit reduction, though.

What about changes to Medicare that would accrue to the health program for the elderly and disabled?

There's definitely more support for that approach. To prevent Medicare bankruptcy, 42 percent of Americans would support minor cuts in Medicare spending. And nearly a third — 32 percent — would support major spending cuts.

Now, let's say just for the sake of discussion, somebody wanted to cut Medicare spending as a way to prevent tax increases on the rich. The poll says a third of Americans are quite all right with minor cuts to achieve that goal And more than a fifth — 21 percent — major cuts for that purpose would be just fine.

The poll's margin for error is plus or minus 3 percentage points. You can see all the questions, which covered a lot more territory, and the detailed results here.

Copyright 2011 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.