WASHINGTON, D.C. (AP) - Most Americans oppose proposals to cut Medicare or Social Security and a majority supports raising taxes on high earners in order to maintain Medicare as it is.
The Associated Press and the NORC Center for Public Affairs Research released a poll in March that revealed new findings. Both safety net programs will run out of money to pay full benefits by the end of this decade.
Few Americans are in favor of some methods that politicians have proposed to strengthen the programs. 79% oppose reducing Social Security benefits, and 67% say they're against increasing monthly Medicare premiums. Around 65 million older people and disabled people rely on government-sponsored healthcare through Medicare, and monthly payments from Social Security.
A majority of 58% supports the idea that households earning over $400,000 annually should pay more taxes to fund Medicare. This is a plan put forward by Joe Biden, last month.
Marilyn Robinson, a 90-year-old woman, disagrees with almost everything that the Democratic leader says. However she believes his plan to raise taxes on wealthy Americans in order to fund the future of the health care system makes sense.
She does not know anyone who earns that much in White Creek, New York. Robinson, who has been receiving Medicare for 25 years, only receives $1,386 per month in Social Security and Pension checks.
She said, 'I could survive with that amount of money.' If you are talking about $400,000 you are in a different category. Nobody around here makes money like that.
Most Americans would only support one change in the entitlement programs.
The programs will undergo changes in some form or another. The annual Social Security and Medicare Trustee's Report released on Friday last week warned that Medicare would only be able to cover 89% payments for inpatient hospital stays and nursing home stay by 2031. Social Security's ability to pay retirees benefits will drop to 77% in just two years.
A recent poll revealed that most Americans are unsure about the future of the two programs. Only 2/10 Americans feel very or extremely confident they will receive the benefits when needed, and the other half have no or little confidence.
Some Republicans have, however, floated the idea to raise the age of eligibility for Social Security or Medicare in order to keep these programs solvent.
A majority of Americans rejects this as well. Seven in ten Americans oppose the raising of the Medicare eligibility age from 65 to 67.
U.S. legislators who support raising eligibility to keep these programs afloat have probably been given a glimpse of the difficult road that lies ahead in France. The president's plan to raise the country's retirement age for pensioners from 62 to a 64-year-old has met with violence and protests by 1,000,000 people.
James Evins, 29, from San Francisco in the U.S. says that he is not concerned about the future of Social Security and Medicare. He believes that as a teacher of middle school language arts, he will have enough money in the state retirement program to retire.
Couldn't they raise a larger amount of money to fund the fund? Evins responded that raising Medicare taxes for those earning $400,000 and above is the better option. This is a terrible thing for those who are trying retire. I think 65 is too late.
Mark Ferley, 55, of Chesapeake in Virginia is concerned about the future of these programs. He's worried that he will not get the money back he has paid into them. He is in favor of raising the age for Social Security and Medicare eligibility to 70. Ferley, a conservative who has said that he is a supporter of raising the eligibility age for Social Security and Medicare to 70, believes taxes should also be raised on households making $400,000 or higher in order to keep social programs solvent.
The poll showed that while most people support raising taxes on households who earn more than $400 per year in order to pay for Medicare the political divide is quite stark: 75% of Democrats are in favor but Republicans are evenly divided with 42% supporting the tax, 37% against and 20% not at all.
Ferley is concerned that while the American public might agree on the solutions to the programs, elected officials will not come up with a solution.
He said: 'Until the leadership of our country decides that compromise is not a dirty term, I'm not optimistic.'
Paul Ginsburg is a professor of Health Policy at the University of Southern California. His concerns are valid. The majority of legislators do not take dire warnings regarding the future of Social Security or Medicare seriously. The federal government instead comes up with short-term fixes to extend the programs for a few years.
Ginsburg stated Friday that people will just go back to their normal routines and not worry about the future Social Security and Medicare deficits. It's especially problematic for Social Security. Social Security is a case where you can make modest changes if you act now. If you wait until the year 2035, it will be too late.
The survey of 1,081 adult participants was conducted on Mar. A sample of 1,081 adults was drawn from NORC’s probability-based AmeriSpeak Panel. This panel is intended to be representative for the U.S. Population. The margin of error for all respondents was plus or minus 4 percentage points.