Poll: 58 percent want Medicare kept as is

Democrats trumpeted new poll results Monday that show strong opposition to Rep. Paul Ryan’s (R-Wis.) Medicare proposal — though the same poll also says voters aren’t interested in hearing about healthcare during the presidential election.

According to the new CBS News poll, 31 percent of Americans support converting Medicare into a sort of voucher program. Fifty-eight percent said they support keeping the program’s existing structure intact.

Ryan’s plan would eliminate the traditional single-payer Medicare system and replace it with vouchers that could be used in the private insurance market.

According to the poll, 53 percent of Americans believe Medicare needs “fundamental changes.” Another 27 percent said only minor changes are necessary. In every age group younger than 65, more than half of all respondents said the program needs major changes.

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Democratic leadership offices in the House and Senate drew attention to the results Monday as part of a sustained effort to make the Medicare proposal a defining issue in the 2012 cycle.

The CBS poll, however, found that only 7 percent of Americans say healthcare is the top issue they want to hear the 2012 presidential candidates discuss. A plurality — 47 percent — said the candidates should focus on jobs and the economy.

The Republican presidential field is also spending a lot of time discussing healthcare.

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney faces frequent attacks on the healthcare reforms he enacted as governor, largely because it has many similarities to President Obama's federal healthcare law. Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty described the policy as “Obamneycare” this weekend, ahead of a debate in New Hampshire on Monday evening.