WASHINGTON – The flawed rollout of the Affordable Care Act has pushed President Obama to the lowest point of his presidency, with dwindling faith in his competence and in many of the personal attributes that have buoyed him in the past, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll.
Opposition to the new health care law also hit a record high in the survey, with 57 percent saying they oppose the president’s most significant domestic initiative. Forty-six percent say they are strongly against it. Just a month ago, as the enrollment period was beginning, the public was almost evenly divided in its assessments of the law.
Disapproval of Obama’s handling of the health care law’s rollout stands at 63 percent, with a majority saying they strongly disapprove. Last month, 53 percent disapproved.
The findings are the first since Obama’s news conference last week in which he repeatedly acknowledged his and the administration’s mistakes in handling the legislation. He also sought to subdue the anger among millions of Americans whose individual policies were canceled because they did not meet the new requirements.
His overall approval rating has fallen to 42 percent, having dropped 6 percentage points in a month, and equals his record low in Post-ABC polls. His disapproval rating stands at 55 percent, which is the worst of his presidency. Forty-four percent say they strongly disapprove of the way he is handling his job, also the worst of his presidency.
Meanwhile, the pace of enrollment in health plans through the troubled federal insurance marketplace has nearly doubled since the end of October as software engineers have resolved about 200 of the more than 600 initial defects that had rendered the federal website HealthCare.gov all but unusable, according to people familiar with the repair effort.
As of mid-November, the number of enrollees, which the Obama administration defines as people who have selected a marketplace plan, was more than 50,000 – up from 27,000 in the entire month of October but still a fraction of the number the administration once expected.
Despite the progress, specialists are worried about whether they can meet the administration’s goal of enabling 4 in 5 users to enroll through HealthCare.gov by the end of the month. One person familiar with the effort said a more realistic goal was that 4 in 5 people would “have a positive experience,” which could include being redirected to customer service agents.
Jay Carney, the White House press secretary, said the administration was still considering ways for people to sign up for health care coverage directly with insurance companies, working around the struggling website.
Opponents of the health care law are already moving on to their next target. Two House committees will hold simultaneous hearings today to press officials from the Department of Health and Human Services and its computer contractors on potential security vulnerabilities.