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Health Law's Popularity Rises ... Ever So Slightly

Can you say blip?

Apparently that's what last month's all-time low popularity numbers were for President Obama's health overhaul law, according to this month's tracking poll by the Kaiser Family Foundation.

Overall, the federal Affordable Care Act still remains slightly more unpopular (44 percent) than popular (37 percent), but that's down from last month's 51-34 split.

The major reason for the uptick is the rebound in support among Democrats. Their favorability ratings jumped from 52 percent last month to 62 percent this month. Republicans and independents continue to have a mostly unfavorable view of the measure.

As has been the case since the bill passed in 2010, however, many of the law's individual elements remain quite popular among those from across the ideological spectrum. More than 80 percent of respondents favor a requirement that insurance plans provide an easy-to-understand summary of benefits and another that provides tax credits for small businesses.

Least popular is the so-called "individual mandate" that will require most Americans to either have health insurance or else pay a penalty beginning in 2014. That's supported by a majority of Democrats (53 percent), but opposed overall by 63 percent of respondents. Its constitutionality will be decided next year by the Supreme Court.

Finally, the poll found the public is still confused about what the law does and does not do, more than 18 months after its passage. More than 40 percent of those polled did not know the law included such popular provisions as the requirements for simple benefit summaries and providing preventive services without cost-sharing. At the same time, more than half still thought it includes a government-run insurance plan, which it does not.

Copyright 2011 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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