© Krantz News Service, October 1, 2013
The federal government shutdown has not delayed the opening of the Affordable Care Act's health insurance marketplaces.
However, that does not mean the Oct. 1 opening is free of problems.
Just about all of the initial difficulties at the health insurance marketplaces result from technical glitches rather than funding problems.
The shutdown will in fact impact the Department of Health and Human Services; HHS plans to furlough more than 40,000 staff, or 52 percent of its employees. 1/
Still, the health exchanges are largely funded by mandatory rather than discretionary spending. For example, the federal Health Insurance Marketplace, healthcare.gov, is managed by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). The ACA activities of CMS are funded by mandatory spending, according to an HHS schedule. 2/
See State Exchange Links and ACA-Related Legislation here.
"Those marketplaces will be open for business on Tuesday, no matter what, even if there's a government shutdown -- that's a done deal," President Obama said on Friday.
He said as many as 40 million Americans without health insurance could buy it through the health insurance marketplaces.
However, authorities have already warned of a number of difficulties in some states. Most difficulties are likely to be with services targeted to small businesses, according to The Washington Post, citing "the sheer scope of the technology and infrastructure required to operate the online portals."
Exchanges in only nine states are expected to be fully functioning with all promised features on opening day, the Post reported.
The following state exchanges reportedly are fully ready: California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Idaho, Kentucky, Massachusetts, New Mexico, New York and Rhode Island.
The federal marketplace is not without its own glitches. HHS announced last week that it had delayed online enrollment for one month for small businesses. 3/
Coverage for them is still expected to begin on Jan. 1, 2014.
1/ HHS Contigency Staffing Plan http://www.hhs.gov/budget/fy2014/fy2014contingency_staffing_plan-rev2.pdf
2/ Congressional Research Service report to U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) on July 30, 2013: http://www.coburn.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?a=Files.Serve&File_id=1933ce98-a8cf-48bc-af5c-b222c18fcb1d
3/ HHS new release, September 26, 2013 www.hhs.gov/news/press/2013pres/09/20130926b.html