‘Obamacare’ exchanges start up as gov’t shuts down

(AP) — For years, the Obama administration has been preparing for the launch of new health insurance exchanges, intended to expand Screen Shot 2013-10-01 at 5.18.45 AMcoverage to millions of Americans. But this is far from the grand opening President Barack Obama may have expected.

The exchanges are starting up just as most of the federal government is shutting down. Congress missed its midnight deadline to extend the government’s funding.

There will be just a skeletal staff at the White House when Obama meets Tuesday with Americans who plan to purchase insurance through the exchanges. Hundreds of thousands of federal workers will be on furlough.

The main components of “Obamacare” will proceed despite the shutdown. That’s because its funding is protected from the whims of Congress, like other functions such as Social Security and national defense.