Barack Obama

Brushing aside GOP opponents and the threat of a federal shutdown, Obama urges Americans to start checking out new health insurance plans.

President Obama’s signature healthcare law went into effect starting Tuesday.
By Noam N. Levey
September 30, 2013, 9:44 p.m.

WASHINGTON — Three and a half years after President Obama signed his landmark healthcare law, his administration made its final preparations Monday to begin enrolling millions of Americans in health insurance amid persistent anxiety over possible technical problems and intense opposition from Republican critics.

Administration officials emphasized that a government shutdown would not prevent the federal website for enrolling in health coverage — http://www.healthcare.gov — from going live at 8 a.m Eastern time Tuesday, allowing consumers to begin signing up for plans.

Officials in most states that are running their own online insurance marketplaces — including California, Connecticut and Maryland — are also planning to open for business Tuesday. And call centers set up to handle consumer questions through the government’s 1-800-318-2596 hotline are scheduled to be open for business.

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“The Affordable Care Act is moving forward,” Obama told reporters at the White House on Monday. “You can’t shut it down.”

The law, commonly known as Obamacare, is designed to allow Americans who don’t get coverage through employers to shop for health plans through new state-based online insurance marketplaces.

Insurers for the first time must meet new basic standards and are prohibited from turning away consumers with preexisting medical conditions. Millions of low- and moderate-income Americans who make less than four times the federal poverty level — or about $46,000 — will qualify for government subsidies to help with their premiums.

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