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Poll: Favorable views of health reform law increasing among Americans

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By David S. Hilzenrath
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, June 30, 2010; 9:05 AM

The health-care overhaul gained popularity from May to June, according to a new tracking poll.

The results suggest that the Obama administration's promotion of the legislation may be paying off or that the public may be warming to the law as early provisions take effect.

The Kaiser Family Foundation poll found that 48 percent of the public had a favorable view of the law in June while 41 percent had an unfavorable opinion. A month earlier, the split was 41 percent favorable to 44 percent unfavorable.

The latest survey results were not much different from those in March, shortly before the law was enacted. Then, at the end of a bitter year-long battle, 46 percent said they supported the proposed legislation while 42 percent opposed it.

Since President Obama signed the law, Democrats and Republicans vying for advantage in the fall elections have been fighting to shape how the public perceives the historic legislation. The administration has been spotlighting potentially crowd-pleasing elements as they are phased in, including a provision that will allow many parents to keep young adult children on their insurance policies until age 26, and another provision that is helping some Medicare beneficiaries narrow a gap in their prescription drug coverage.

"Overall, roughly a third of voters say that a candidate who voted for the health reform law will be more likely to get their vote, a third say less likely, and a third say it doesn't really matter," said the foundation, which studies and distributes information about health-care policy.

When voters were pressed to choose the issue most important to them, "economic concerns came out on top, with 29 percent naming either the economy or unemployment," the foundation said. Thirteen percent mentioned dissatisfaction with government, 12 percent mentioned health care, and 9 percent each pointed to the Gulf Coast oil spill and the budget deficit, the survey found.

The full impact of the health-care legislation will not be felt until 2014, when some of the most far-reaching and controversial elements take effect. Those include an end to discrimination by insurers based on preexisting conditions and a requirement that everyone carry health insurance.

The Kaiser tracking poll was conducted June 17 through 22 and has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus four percentage points, the foundation said.


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