Most Americans say the rocky start for HealthCare.gov is a harbinger of bigger problems for the Affordable Care Act, according to results of a new Washington Post-ABC News poll.
Fifty-six percent of Americans say the Web site problems are part of a broader problem with the law's implementation while just 40 percent see the Web site problems as an isolated incident. Reaction to federal insurance exchange Web site are deeply rooted in partisanship. More than eight in 10 Republicans say Web site troubles are a sign of broader implementation problems, while most Democrats call it an isolated incident. Independents resemble the public overall, with 55 percent seeing broader problems with implementation.
President Obama is clearly aware of that conflation and the dangers it presents for the law. "We did not wage this long and contentious battle just around a Web site," he said at a speech Monday at the White House.
The bungled rollout has not soured support for the health law overall, however. Forty six percent now support it while 49 percent oppose it. That compares favorably to a 42 to 52 percent negative split last month. Support has rebounded since July among moderate and conservative Democrats, while Republican opposition has also softened. Criticism of the law is varied, with one in five opponents saying it doesn't go far enough rather than saying it goes too far in changing the system.
Fewer than half of Americans have supported the law ever since its passage but the desire for repealing it altogether is even lower. One-third of the public, 33 percent, doesn't support the law and wants to repeal it, while 20 percent are not supporters but want to "let the health care law go ahead and see how it works." Hard-core opposition rests mainly among Republicans, 69 percent of whom oppose the law and 60 percent who say it should be repealed. That compares with a third of independents who want to repeal it and 10 percent of Democrats.
Views of President Obama's role in the implementation of the law are more negative than positive, with 53 percent disapproving of the job he is doing and 41 percent approving. There has been a bit of a thaw for Obama since last month with approval ratings on the implementation of his signature law increasing seven points from September.
The Post-ABC poll was conducted October 17-20 among a random national sample of 1,002 adults, including interviews on landlines and with cell phone-only respondents. The overall margin of sampling error is plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.