WASHINGTON – A plurality of Republican voters don't want the federal government to make any changes to Medicare, the Gallup polling firm found Wednesday -- a potentially problematic sign for GOP leaders who are pushing for deep cuts to the program.

Thirty-three percent of Republicans said the government should "not try to control costs," while an additional 28 percent supported "minor changes" to the program. Twenty percent said "major changes" would be necessary, and just 14 percent backed a "complete overhaul" of the seniors' health care program.

The numbers could pose political hurdles for Republican leaders, who have united behind a proposal by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) that dramatically transforms Medicare, privatizing it over ten years and offering vouchers for Americans currently under 55 to purchase private insurance.

Democratic leaders have called the proposal a nonstarter.

Perhaps unexpectedly, the belief that Medicare should be left alone was even higher in the poll among Republicans than Democrats and independents, who held that view by 21 and 29 percent, respectively. But Democrats were less likely to support a "complete overhaul" of the single-payer program for the elderly.

The poll by Gallup and USA Today surveyed 1,004 adults by telephone on April 11 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.

[Via Ezra Klein]

[Image credit to SpeakerBoehner, Creative Commons licensed]