Government Shutdown Cuts Half of HHS Staff as Exchanges Open

Whatever HHS officials envisioned for the first day of open enrollment on the health insurance exchanges, they surely didn't expect to face it with more than half of the department's employees furloughed.

Whatever HHS officials envisioned for the first day of open enrollment on the health insurance exchanges, they surely didn't expect to face it with more than half of the department's employees furloughed.

But that scenario began to play out as the complex launch coincided with the nation's first government shutdown in 17 years after Republicans refused to pass a temporary spending measure without also eliminating or delaying core provisions of the 2010 healthcare law.

“Shutdown or no shutdown, we're ready to go start enrolling people tomorrow,” HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius told healthcare reporters at HHS headquarters on Monday. Individuals can shop for coverage in the exchanges at www.HealthCare.gov starting at 8 a.m. ET Tuesday. The secretary added that HHS also plans to “turn up the volume” on its educational efforts in the next six months through television ads, traditional and social media, and in-person conversations.

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Source: Modern Healthcare