Health Insurance Exchanges and Government Shutdown Compete for Headlines

Since October 1st, the opening of “Obamacare’s” Health Insurance Exchanges, along with the government shut down, have competed for headlines. As one physician and writer for Forbes put it:

Supporters and opponents of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) looked at day one of the exchanges and saw the same thing: confirmation that their personal opinion of the law was the right one. For advocates, the high volume of calls and clicks proved that this legislation will make positive contributions in the future. For critics, the technical difficulties and operational uncertainties were examples of the flaws in the ACA and symptoms of a broader set of problems. Many on both sides of the issue noted the irony of the exchanges opening for people to sign up on the same day the federal government faced a partial shutdown.

(Excerpt from “Health Insurance Exchanges: Reading the Tea Leaves on Day One” by Robert Pearl, M.D., on Forbes)

As the exchanges opened, communities planned events to assist their constiuents with understanding and fully utilizing the law. In the Chicago area, State Representative Sara Feigenholtz is holding an information and enrollment session at a Chicago police station to assist constiuents with signing up for health insurance. Illinois is one state where premiums through the exchanges are expected to be lower than HHS estimates. California reported more than one million hits on the exchange website in the first 90 minutes it was open. The Kaiser Family Foundation has developed a subsidy calculator to help Americans determine their eligibility for subsidies.

Meanwhile in Washington, the battle has continued in Congress over the budget for Fiscal Year 2014; after midnighton September 30th, the federal government went into a partial shutdown due to lack of appropriations. The shutdown occured when the House  included provisions in the budget that would either defund or delay implementation of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) (P.L. 111-148), or Obamacare.

Although the shutdown has a significant impact on the Department of Health and Human Services, it does not impact the implementation of PPACA. The last government shutdown last 21 days, from December of 1995 into January of 1996, during President Clinton’s administration.