A new ABC News/Washington Post poll reports that the majority of Americans strongly oppose raising the Medicare eligibility age in order to strike a deal to stave off the so-called “fiscal cliff,” and that opposition cuts evenly across party lines.
Researchers found that 68 percent of Republicans are opposed to raising the Medicare age from 65 to 67, compared to just 30 percent of Republicans who support it. In fact, similarly strong majorities of respondents in each political group they sampled — Democrats, Republicans, Independents, and self-identifying liberals and conservatives — are opposed to the policy, regardless of their party affiliation or political leaning. Opposition grows even stronger among older Americans, peaking at 78 percent among adults between the ages of 50 and 64 years old, and also tended to be higher among Americans making less than $100,000 a year.
And compared to the other potential compromises that lawmakers could make in their budget negotiations, like raising revenue or reducing income tax deductions, respondents reported a much stronger opposition to raising Medicare eligibility:
Even though some politicians and right-wing pundits have toyed with the idea of raising the Medicare age in fiscal cliff talks, that move would only negatively impact seniors without resulting in real savings. The policy would shift the cost burden onto older Americans who fall between the old eligibility age and the new one, since seniors in that gap would see their out-of-pocket expenses soar when they are no longer able to access Medicare coverage. And according to a Congressional Budget Office analysis, raising the eligibility age would hardly impact the long-term costs of the Medicare program, since it would involve dropping coverage for younger seniors who tend to be healthier and have lower medical costs anyway.