Poll: Many oppose cuts, major changes to Medicaid

Efforts to change Medicare have sparked a backlash, and a new poll indicates that many Americans also oppose changes to Medicaid, the entitlement program for the poor and disabled.

The opposition to cutting Medicaid spending or significantly changing the program could stem in part from the program’s widespread reach, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation, which designed the poll. Just over half the respondents said they had a personal connection to Medicaid.

The poll asked about changes such as cutting Medicaid funding or turning the program into a block grant, as the federal budget proposal introduced by Rep. Paul Ryan would do.

Fifty-three percent of those surveyed said they don’t want to see Medicaid spending reduced, while 13 percent said they would support major cuts in spending for the program as part of Congress’ effort to reduce the federal budget deficit. Sixty percent said they wanted the program to remain as it is, with the federal government guaranteeing coverage and setting minimum standards for benefits and eligibility, while 35 percent favored block grants, with the federal government giving states fixed amounts of money and letting each state decide what groups and services to cover.

The poll also found that Medicaid has a wide reach. Twenty percent of survey respondents said they had received Medicaid coverage for health care, long-term care or Medicare premium assistance, and another 31 percent said a friend or family member had. Forty-nine percent said Medicaid is very or somewhat important to them and their family.

In Connecticut, close to 600,000 people receive Medicaid coverage for health care or long-term care, including close to 400,000 in the HUSKY program for low-income children and their parents.