Poll Reveals Deep Divide on Medicare Reform

A recently released survey conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation and the Harvard School of Public Health finds that 56 percent of respondents agreed that Medicare should be expanded to cover prescription drugs. However, while 67 percent of Democrats agreed with this proposition, only 43 percent of Republicans did.

There was more agreement on the proposition that some of the budget surplus be used to provide coverage for the uninsured, with 89 percent of Democrats and 68 percent of Republicans supporting such a measure. But they don''t agree on the extent of such assistance, with 54 percent of Democrats supporting a "major" initiative as opposed to 27 percent of Republicans.

The most agreement was with respect to patients'' rights, with 81 percent of Democrats and 71 percent of Republicans favoring a plan that would permit patients to sue health plans. But the support drops precipitously in both parties if the plan would raise the cost of health insurance, with only 32 percent of Democrats and 28 percent of Republicans supporting the right to sue under such conditions.

Copies of the entire survey report may be ordered at www.kff.org.