As Health Care Costs Take a Toll, Some Changes Win Broad Backing

While Democrats and independents express the same level of support for a universal system that they did in 2003, Republicans are now 14 points less likely to favor it.

Among age groups, support for a universal system peaks among those under age 30, and is lowest among seniors.

Politics -- Partisanship affects support for various health care solutions. Overall, Democrats are more likely than Republicans to support almost all the proposals tested in this poll. And their preferred approaches are different. Tops for Democrats are employer mandates for full-time workers and expanding state programs for the poor. Republicans are most in favor of offering tax breaks to businesses that provide insurance, and offering tax credits or other aid to help low-income people buy private insurance.

Overall, this poll finds the Democratic Party with a 17-point lead over the Republicans in trust to handle health care issues. And while it ranks below Iraq and the economy as a top-level election concern, the issue does have political potency. Nearly three in 10 Americans rate it as one of the top two issues in their vote for Congress this year, with women twice as apt as men to call it the single most important issue in their vote.

Methodology -- This ABC News/Kaiser Family Foundation/USA Today poll was conducted by telephone Sept. 7-12, 2006, among a random national sample of 1,201 adults. The results have a three-point error margin. Sampling, data collection and tabulation by TNS of Horsham, Pa.

ABC News polls can be found at ABCNEWS.com at http://abcnews.com/pollvault.html

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