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Poll: Majority Would Pay Higher Taxes For Universal Health Care


A majority of Americans would pay higher taxes if it meant health insurance for everyone, according to a new CBS News/New York Times poll – though many worry that the nation's economy will suffer if the government were to offer universal health care.

The poll also finds that health care is a major domestic concern for Americans, second only to the economy.

Fifty-seven percent of those polled say they are willing to pay higher taxes in order to provide all Americans with health care coverage. While seventy three percent of Democrats favor a tax increase to fund coverage, only twenty-nine percent of Republicans back such a move.

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Asked which domestic policy area the president and the Congress should focus on other than the economy, thirty-five percent said health care, the top choice. The second most popular choice was education at twenty-two percent, followed by social security at seventeen percent and energy at fifteen percent.

Despite the overall concern about health care and desire to do something about it, opinions are mixed about the what universal health insurance could mean for the nation's economy.

Thirty-seven percent feel the economy will suffer if universal healthcare is implemented, while thirty-four percent say the economy will improve.

Again, differences follow party lines. Forty-six percent of Democrats feel the economy would be improved by guaranteed health insurance, while only twenty one percent of Republicans agree.

A majority of those surveyed say that providing health insurance for the uninsured is a more serious problem than keeping health care costs down, though by a narrower margin than two years ago.

When asked to choose between the two, fifty-four percent said providing health insurance for the uninsured is the more serious problem. Forty percent said keeping costs low was more important. In 2007, sixty-five percent of Americans said that proving universal health care was more important than low costs.

Fifty-nine percent of those polled say they have seen increase in health care costs compared to other household expenses in recent years. As a result, most are concerned about the health costs their family will face in the coming years; fifty-seven percent say they are "very" concerned about the costs. Those earning less than $50,000 a year are more likely to be very concerned than those with higher incomes.

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This poll was conducted among a random sample of 998 adults nationwide, interviewed by telephone April 1-5, 2009. Phone numbers were dialed from RDD samples of both standard land-lines and cell phones. The error due to sampling for results based on the entire sample could be plus or minus three percentage points. The error for subgroups is higher.

This poll release conforms to the Standards of Disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls.

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