WASHINGTON -- Democrats are getting set to ramp up the budget cut rhetoric with a new message: Don't throw grandma from the nursing home.
The messaging comes after new polling by a Democratic-aligned polling firm found that messages about the impacts of the House Republican budget plan on elderly Medicaid recipients resonate even more powerfully than criticism about its impact on Medicare.
The budget blueprint crafted by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) turns the healthcare system for the elderly into a private program, which will double the cost of healthcare in 10 years for future seniors, according to the Congressional Budget Office.
The Ryan privatization plan is deeply unpopular: Fresh polling by Bloomberg released Thursday found that Americans think they would be worse off if Ryan's Medicare proposal is adopted by a margin of 57 percent to 34 percent -- including 58 percent of electorally key independents who dislike the plan.
But the new polling by Anzalone Liszt Research, the Democratic-aligned polling firm, found an even more dramatic response on Medicaid if respondents are told of the impacts seniors face.
Told that the Ryan budget "would cut $750 billion from Medicaid, including funding for 80 percent of nursing home residents, forcing many seniors to be kicked out of their nursing homes," 63 percent of respondents said they were "very" concerned. That figure was 69 percent for seniors and 64 percent for independents.
About 64 percent of senior nursing home residents depend on Medicaid as the primary means of paying for their housing. Still more rely on Medicaid for other expenses or to be able to stay in their own homes.
The polling firm concluded those numbers make the issue a winner for Democrats, and they advise using similar language to bring the message home to voters.
Democrats, however, are not about to drop the complaints about the impacts of Ryan's plan on Medicare, which are widely credited with helping Democrats win the New York special election that propelled Rep. Kathy Hochul into a seat long held by the GOP.
In fact the pollsters found that while the Medicaid-nursing home question elicits the greatest concern, there are several issues that tip likely voters' meters over into "very concerned" territory.
The ideas include that pre-existing medical conditions would no longer be covered, that Ryan's plan privatizes Medicare, that Ryan's budget hits seniors while sparing oil companies and that the Medicaid cuts would hurt children and the disabled in addition to the elderly.
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