FRANKFORT, Ky. (10/3/13) – As the government shutdown continues in its third day, Democrats and Republicans seem no closer to ending its impasse regarding funding the government including the Affordable Care Act also known as the ObamaCare healthcare plan, and raising the nation's debt limit.
As a result of the shutdown, many national parks, memorials and the Department of Veterans Affairs are closed. An estimated 800,000 federal employees have been furloughed, the lights are off in many government offices and clinical drug trials and disease-prevention work have been set back.
In Hopkins County, the most noticeable result is the shutdown of some federal websites.
Some agencies have placed splash pages on their landing sites. The United States Department of Agriculture web site says, "Due to the lapse in federal government funding, this website is not available." The National Aeronautics and Space Administration website similarly says: "Due to the lapse in federal government funding, this website is not available. We sincerely regret this inconvenience."
A mammoth surge of visitors to the new federal health insurance exchange site caused the system to crash Oct. 2. According to HealthCare.gov, 4.7 million unique visits logged in during the first 24 hours of operation.
In Kentucky, one of the states that offer insurance company clearing houses, initial interest caused a few snags.
Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear's office issued a press release Wednesday stating that 60,000 visitors sought information about health care on kynect.ky.gov in its first live day. The surge of hits revealed a system glitch preventing users from filing applications and eventually shutting it down for about three hours.
Anyone at 400 percent below the federal poverty level, or about $94,200 for a family of four, may be eligible for tax subsidies that would be applied to their insurance premiums. Mandatory health insurance coverage by individuals that have previously uninsured is part of the act.
While Washington volleys the issues back and forth, people in western Kentucky are concerned about how ObamaCare will affect the job market.
SurfKY contacted several western Kentucky residents to gather opinions about the act's repercussion on the jobs.
Former Hopkins County Judge-Executive Patricia Hawkins said regulated healthcare may mean more people find a detour around the rules.
"When something is regulated, you can bet people will try to find a way to dodge it," said Hawkins. "In regard to the Affordable Care Act, will we see reductions in full-time employment positions and increased movement to temporary employment positions? It remains to be seen. But, job seekers should be prepared for this possibility. Considering ACA was signed into law in March 2010, companies have had plenty of time to scrutinize it and search for loopholes."
Supreme guitarist Eddie Pennington told SurfKY that it's hard to understand the act itself and its repercussions.
"I don't know enough about it to know what it will do," said Pennington. "I think it will do more politically than anything because it is such a tossed-around issue between the sides, but nobody talks about what it is supposed to do as far as insurances goes. I know that insurance for individuals is pretty much unaffordable to those that are not on some kind of group plan, and something needs to be done about that."
Rita Dukes Smith
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