New poll finds majority oppose making changes to Medicare

Voters in three key battleground states want Medicare to stay the way it is rather than change under a reform plan supported by Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan, according to a new poll. 

The Quinnipiac University/New York Times/CBS poll released Thursday found that in Florida, Ohio and Wisconsin, a majority of voters would rather Medicare "continue as it is." Fewer than a third offered support for Ryan's budget proposal that recipients get federal subsidies to buy private insurance. 

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In all three states, according to the poll, voters think President Obama would do a better job on handling healthcare-related issues than would Romney, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee. In both Florida and Ohio, 50 percent said Obama would do a better job while 42 percent picked Romney. Similarly, in Wisconsin, 50 percent said Obama would do better while 44 percent said Romney would do better. 

The poll suggests Romney could be hurt on Medicare because of his selection of Ryan as his running mate. Ryan is well-known for his calls to reform Medicare, but the poll suggests most voters remain uncomfortable with significant changes to the program. 

Since Ryan's selection, Republicans have sought to turn the tables on Democrats by emphasizing future spending reductions to Medicare that would be made through the Obama healthcare law. Republicans argue the healthcare law would "raid" Medicare by more than $700 billion. 

Thursday's Quinnipiac poll found that Obama holds a slight lead in all three swing states, though the Times reported a tightening race in Florida and Wisconsin, where Ryan's addition to the ticket seems to be helping Romney. 

In Florida and Wisconsin, 49 percent said if the election were held today, they would vote for Obama, while 46 percent in Florida and 47 percent in Wisconsin would vote for Romney. 

In Ohio, Obama seems to be holding a consistent lead, according to the poll. Fifty percent said they would vote for Obama, while 44 percent would vote for Romney in that state. 

Medicare is thought to be a particularly important issue in Florida, given that state's population of seniors. The new poll found that in Florida, 62 percent want Medicare to stay the way it is while 28 percent think it should be changed and 10 percent say they don't know. Similarly, 64 percent of those surveyed in Ohio and 59 percent of voters in Wisconsin say they want the program to stay the way it is. Twenty-seven percent in Ohio and 32 percent in Wisconsin say that Medicare should change. In both of those states 9 percent said they did not know. 

The poll was conducted from Aug. 15 to 21 among 1,488 voters in Florida, 1,495 voters in Ohio and 1,425 voters in Wisconsin. 

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