Some in Congress may be considering cuts to programs that help older adults and people with disabilities meet basic needs—including Medicare and Medicaid—in an effort to fill the expected $1.5 trillion budget shortfall created by recent tax legislation. According to a new Kaiser Health Tracking Poll, this goes against the will of most Americans. In fact, the poll finds that just 7% want cuts to Medicare and 12% want cuts to Medicaid.
In addition, the poll highlights how much word choice affects public opinion. Using “entitlement” or “welfare” instead of the name of the program had a substantial effect on people’s responses. When “Medicare” was changed to “entitlement programs,” the percentage of Americans in favor of cuts increased to 27%. Similarly, when “Medicaid” was changed to “welfare programs,” 32% reported being in favor of cuts.
These findings have major implications for advocates in 2018 and beyond. While we are pleased to see that Medicare and Medicaid remain popular, we are reminded of the need to stay vigilant in order to protect these programs from cuts and coded language.
Don’t be fooled: A promise to “reduce spending on entitlement and welfare programs” is a promise to cut health care and other services on which struggling families rely.
Medicare Rights will continue to urge lawmakers to use clear language, to prioritize the health and well-being of all Americans, and to pursue a legislative agenda that protects and strengthens Medicare.