Despite government shutdown, healthcare exchanges go live
POSTED: Tuesday, October 1, 2013 - 6:21am
UPDATED: Wednesday, October 2, 2013 - 12:38pm
(Texas Tribune) — The government shutdown has arrived, but a major provision of Obamacare is moving forward.
On Monday, lawmakers in Washington failed to break a stalemate over a government funding bill that House Republicans, pressed by U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, have refused to support unless the health care law is defunded or delayed.
About 800,000 federal workers now face furloughs, and according to The New York Times, more than 1 million others may have to work without pay.
The shutdown — the first since the Clinton administration — may not affect most Texans immediately, but as the Tribune's Elena Schneider reports, 140,000 federal employees in the state may go without pay, depending on how long the shutdown lasts.
Though the military will continue to be paid and Social Security and Medicare benefits won't be interrupted, some agencies will feel the shutdown's effects right away. NASA, which is headquartered in Houston, and the Environmental Protection Agency, for instance, will halt most of their operations. The Department of Energy will temporarily lose two-thirds of its staff. And national parks, zoos and Smithsonian museums will be closed.
The fate of other services, like the Women, Infants and Children Program, depends on how long the government remains closed.
Meanwhile, despite the shutdown, one of the main provisions of Obamacare — insurance exchanges where Americans will be able to shop for health care coverage — went live around midnight. In Texas and several other states that refused to set up their own marketplaces, the exchanges, which will prove crucial to the success of the president's health care law, will be run by the federal government.
The exchanges have also been thrust into the center of the latest political debate over Obamacare in Texas. On Monday, as the Tribune's Becca Aaronson reported, Democratic lawmakers accused Gov. Rick Perry of trying to block the implementation of Obamacare by seeking strict new rules on the trained workers who will help Texans find coverage in the new marketplace.
Click here to read the report by The Texas Tribune