'Obamacare' exchanges start up as gov't shuts down; funding for program protected

WASHINGTON - For years, the Obama administration has been preparing for the launch of new health insurance exchanges, intended to expand coverage 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.

Understanding the Affordable Health Care Act: http://bit.ly/15Zg21g

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.

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