In the Rose Garden Monday, Obama said "the essence of the law" -- aimed at providing access to health insurance for the roughly 48 million Americans without it -- "is working just fine."
"In some cases, actually, it's exceeding expectations. The prices are lower than expected, and the choice is greater than we expected," he said.
"But the problem has been that the website that's supposed to make it easy to apply for and purchase the insurance is not working the way it should for everybody," he continued. "There's no sugarcoating it. The website has been too slow. People are getting stuck during the application process."
Other Republicans kept up their attacks on the health care reforms on Monday, with the office of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell tweeting that when a visit to the ACA website made a trip to the Department of Motor Vehicles seem pleasant, "it's time for the President to consider delaying this rushed effort."
Through the pipeline
Obama administration officials have highlighted the fact that nearly 500,000 people have filled out applications for the ACA, though the number who purchased coverage remains unknown. Initial difficulties have started to ease for logging on to the website for the new exchanges, some of which are run by states and others by the federal government.
The administration is still not releasing the numbers on how many people have taken the next step of enrolling: choosing a specific health care plan. The administration has said it will do that monthly, so the first tally of enrollment numbers will come in November.
The Congressional Budget Office has said it expects 7 million people to enroll by April 1.
Although March 31 is the deadline for people to get health insurance or face a fine, officials warn that failure to sign up by Feb. 15 could be a problem because of the time needed for the coverage to take effect. Carney told reporters on Monday afternoon that lingering problems in signing people up could result in relief, noting that the law makes clear that "if you do not have access to affordable health insurance, you will not have to pay a penalty for not having affordable health insurance."
A ConsumerReports.org article last week offered tips for people trying to sign up, but had the following advice for those overwhelmed by the difficulties:
"If all this is too much for you to absorb, follow our previous advice: Stay away from HealthCare.gov for at least another month if you can. Hopefully that will be long enough for its software vendors to clean up the mess they've made."
But in a statement issued Monday night, the group said its criticism of the website doesn't mean it now opposes the ACA. Critics of the health care law are misrepresenting the nonprofit organization's position, Consumer Reports said.