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Poll: Spending On Children's Health Care

A clear majority of Americans favor spending tax money to fund health care, school meals and dental care for children who can't afford them, a new CBS News poll finds.

But asked if they're willing to spend more in taxes to increase federal spending on children and they are less enthusiastic, according to the survey.

Eight in ten Americans – including 93 percent of Democrats – favor using tax money to pay for health care for children who cannot afford it. Eighty-five percent favor using tax money for school meals for low income children, and 73 percent favor spending tax dollars on dental care for kids who cannot pay for it.

Though providing day care to poor children is less popular, six in 10 Americans still approve of using taxpayer money to do so. And while Democrats are generally more likely than Republicans to support federal spending on services for children who cannot pay for them, majorities of Republicans support spending tax money on health and dental care and school meals for low income children.

When asked if they support spending more on taxes to increase federal spending on children, however, 44 percent say no. Only slightly more - 51 percent - say yes. There are clear partisan differences on the issue: While two thirds of Democrats are willing to pay more in taxes for programs for children, a similar proportion of Republicans say they are unwilling to do so.

Read The Complete Poll (PDF)
CBS Reports: Children Of The Recession
Many families with health insurance have had to increase the amount of money they contribute to their coverage. Forty-two of parents (and 42 percent of Americans overall) say that the amount of money they contribute to their health plan or their co-payment for a doctor's visit has increased in the past six months. Fifty-four percent say it has stayed the same.

Meanwhile, 13 percent of parents – and 39 percent of parents with incomes under $30,000 – say they have applied for the first time for the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) or Medicaid in the last six months. President Obama signed into law an expansion of SCHIP in February.

See Also: "Poll: Pessimism Over Children's Prospects"
Parents' political leanings resemble those of the country as a whole. In this poll, 25 percent of parents identify themselves as Republicans and 33 percent as Democrats; 41 percent say they are independents or don't provide an answer. Also much like the country as a whole, 62 percent approve of the job President Obama is doing. Forty-four percent think the country is headed in the right direction.

As noted in a portion of the poll released Monday morning, roughly one in 10 parents say over the past six months they have delayed taking their children to the dentist, delayed a routine medical check-up, or delayed taking a child to a medical specialist for a specific treatment because of the recession.

In addition, health care has been near the top of the list of Americans' concerns, and 67 percent think the fact that many American children do not have health insurance is a very serious problem for the country. Another 23 percent think it is at least somewhat serious.

This poll was conducted among a random sample of 1,874 adults nationwide, interviewed by telephone May 6-12, 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 two percentage points. The error for subgroups is higher.

An oversample of parents or guardians of children under 18 living at home with them was interviewed, for a total of 972 interviews with these parents. The results were then weighted in proportion to the total composition of the adult population in the U.S. Census. The margin of error for the sample of parents is three points.

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