Majority of Americans Want Massachusetts-Style Health Law

With Gov. Mitt Romney set to sign Massachusetts' new universal health care coverage law today, a new ABC News/Washington Post poll finds the idea a popular one: Fifty-five percent of Americans say they'd support similar legislation in their own states.

The law, described by its supporters as a national model, requires all residents of the state to have health insurance. It includes a tax penalty for people who don't buy insurance, a $295 per-worker fee for businesses that don't provide it, and subsidies to help poor and low-income residents pay premiums.

Sampling, data collection and tabulation for this poll were done by TNS.

Health care is a potent political issue: Seventy-five percent of Americans say it weighs very heavily in their vote in congressional elections this fall, ranking it just after Iraq, terrorism and the economy. Among people who call health care a top issue, 58 percent of those polled support a version of the Massachusetts law in their own states; among those who call the subject less important, support drops to 45 percent.

It's also an issue on which the Republicans would like to reclaim territory. Currently, 62 percent of Americans disapprove of the way President Bush has handled health care, and the public trusts the Democratics over the Republicans to handle it by a whopping 61 to 29 percent. Romney, a Republican, may run for president in 2008.

Support for Massachussett's-Style Law in Your State
  Support Oppose
All   55%   41%
Democrats   58%   37%
Independents   58%   39%
Republicans   49%   46%
Liberal   57%   38%
Moderate   58%   38%
Conservative   50%   46 %
Evangelical white Protestants   45%   47%
Non-evangelical white Protestanst   58%   37%
Moderate   58%   38%
East   63%   32%
Midwest   47%   48%
South   55%   41%
West   56%   40%
East   63%   32%
Age: Under 40   53%   45%
Age: 40-64   58%   37%
Age: Over 65   49%   39%

Critics have called the measure a government intrusion. Support levels vary among groups, declining among Republicans and conservatives. But in neither group does a majority oppose the idea.

Fifty-eight percent of Democrats and Independents alike say they'd support such a plan in their own states. Republicans are more divided -- 49 percent in favor, 46 percent opposed. Similarly, 58 percent of liberals and moderates are in favor; conservatives split 50-46 percent. Support drops to 45 percent among evangelical white Protestants, a core conservative Republican group, with 47 percent opposed.

The plan is most popular in the Northeast (63 percent support) and least so in the Midwest (47 percent). Its support peaks among middle-aged Americans, 40 to 64 years old. Younger adults tend to have fewer health care needs, and older adults have Medicare.

Methodology

This ABC News/Washington Post poll was conducted by telephone April 6-9, 2006, among a random national sample of 1,027 adults. The results have a three-point error margin. Sampling, data collection and tabulation by TNS of Horsham, Pa.

Click here for PDF version with full questionnaire and results.

For other ABC News polls, click here.

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