Americans who identify themselves as Republicans may have warmed up to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 (PPACA) a little since September, analysts say.

The analysts, at the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, Menlo Park, Calif., have published that finding in a summary of results from a telephone survey of 1,212 U.S. adults ages 18 and older that was conducted in early December.

A little more than 40% of all tracking poll participants said they had a favorable view of PPACA and a little more than 40% of all participants said they had an unfavorable view of PPACA from March through September.

Possibly as a result of Republican primary campaign ads, the gap widened in October, with only 34% of survey participants saying they like PPACA and 51% saying they dislike it.

Since then, the gap has narrowed. This month, only 43% of survey participants said they dislike PPACA and 41% said they like the law.

The analysts divided the survey participants into 5 groups — Republicans, Democrats, true independents, independents who lean toward Republicans and independents who lean toward Democrats.

The analysts found that independents who lean toward Republicans loathe PPACA even more than Republicans do.

About 20% of the survey participants said they were Republicans. About 29% of the Republicans who participated in the latest survey said they have a favorable opinion about PPACA, up from 12% in November, and up from 11% in September. Earlier this year, fewer than 15% of Republicans were expressing favorable opinions about PPACA.

Only 12% of the participants in the latest survey said they are independents who lean toward Republicans, but only 11% of those participants said they have a favorable view of PPACA, down from 12% in November, and down from a peak for the year of 19% in January.

INSURED — SORT OF

Researchers at the Center for Studying Health System Change, Washington, have found that people with private health coverage reported having more trouble with medical bills in 2010 than in 2007.

The researchers have published figures supporting that conclusion in an analysis of a survey of 17,000 U.S. adults.

The percentage of all households with medical problems increased to 21%, from about 19%.

For households with employer-sponsored health coverage, the percentage with problems increased to 17%, from about 16%.

For households with individual coverage, the percentage increased to 23%, from about 21%.

SMALL GROUP TAX CREDIT CHECKER

PPACA created a tax credit that can help some small employers pay for health coverage.

Accountants, benefits brokers and others have complained that figuring out how can use the tax credit is difficult.

Paychex Insurance Agency, a unit of Paychex Inc., Rochester, N.Y. (Nasdaq:PAYX), a payroll company, has tried to fill the gap by posting a free small business tax credit estimator on its website.

To qualify for the tax credit, an employer must have fewer than 25 full-time equivalent employees for the tax year, average annual wages of less than $50,000 per full-time equivalent, and contribute at least 50% of the single-premium cost for each enrolled employee.

Small employers can use the tax credit estimator to get an eligibility estimated based on the employees’ hours, wages and premiums and the employers’ contributions.

For employers that use the Paychex payroll system, the company is providing a small business tax credit report package.