With only seven days to go until October 1 and the official launch of the new public health insurance exchanges, a number of questions loom large. The biggest, by far, is would a government shutdown threatened by congressional Republicans also shut down the exchanges?

The answer appears to be no, according to a July report by The Congressional Research Service, which stated: "It appears that substantial ACA implementation might continue during a lapse in annual appropriations."

“A shutdown per se doesn’t stop the Affordable Care Act,” Doug Holtz-Eakin, a former director of the Congressional Budget Office who now leads the American Action Forum, a Washington advocacy group opposed to the Affordable Care Act, explained to Bloomberg.

That’s because the shutdown, which would also begin on Oct. 1, would only curtail discretionary funding, not mandatory spending on benefits such as Medicare and Social Security. The monies used to fund the ACA and the exchanges come out of this latter category, so exchange operations would not be impeded and people would still be able to enroll for insurance as planned.

Moreover a shutdown, seen by many Republican members of the House and Senate as a way to prevent the ACA and the exchanges from taking effect, could actually work in the new health law’s favor. A Washington Post blog entry explains:

“Obamacare's first year will be full of glitches and hiccups and mistakes and misfires. That's true for every big, complicated law. The expectation is that Republicans will be able to take advantage of those problems. But if the early implementation comes in the context of an extended government shutdown, Republicans might well get blamed for implementation glitches as the media and voters ask whether the law wouldn't work more smoothly if the GOP hadn't turned out the lights.”

Meanwhile, other critical questions about the impact of the ACA as the ability of the exchanges to operate and the readiness of the public to enroll come October 1 continue to swirl.

This story orginally appeared on HIX, a SourceMedia site focused on tracking tghe development of health insurance exchanges.

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