Is Paul Ryan right? 72 percent of Americans want health care overhaul

Congressman Paul Ryan
Alex Wong
Congressman Paul Ryan wants to cut government spending on health care. Do Americans agree?
Alex Wong

(CBS) Is Paul Ryan right when it comes to health care? According to a new survey, a shocking 72 percent of Americans think the system needs a major overhaul, but not in the way you might think.

This week , the Wisconsin Congressman proposed changing how Medicaid and Medicare, the two largest government health-care programs, are paid for. By giving states financial control of block grants to cover Medicaid and forcing future Medicare recipients to buy private health insurance, which the government would help fund, he hopes to radically reign in costs.

And it probably would. A recent Congressional Budget Office analysis of his plan predicts it will reduce total federal spending, deficits and debt. The office also said it would increase the costs for future Medicaid and Medicare recipients.

Like Ryan, Americans are deeply worried about debt and the rising costs of health care, but according to a new study by the Commonwealth Fund, it's their own pocketbooks that have them panicked.

According to the report, seven in ten Americans are worried about access to health care and an equal number believe the system should be fundamentally changed or entirely rebuilt.  Almost half of those polled already had difficulties with the high cost of their care - either from an inability to pay medical bills or having their health insurance deny payment or provide far less than they expected.

"Health care is too often unaffordable, hard to get when needed, and wasteful or poorly coordinated," said report co-author and Commonwealth Fund Senior Vice President Cathy Schoen in a statement.

The Commonwealth Fund is a nearly century-old organization which promotes greater access to health care. Their report is supportive of President Obama's health care overhaul, which Ryan and other Republicans hope to repeal or significantly reform.

The study did not specifically address the differences between private health insurance and coverage provided by the government - Medicaid for the poor and Medicare for seniors. But they did ask about cooperation between private and public payers. More than eight in ten want the government and private insurers to work together to negotiate prices with hospitals, doctors and drug companies.

Whether or not Ryan's plan will be good for the country, it seems Americans are worried sick about getting sick.

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