Commentary: Reacting to Shutdown

Commentary: Reacting to Shutdown

— With the first shutdown of the federal government in 16 years in effect, Virginians are bracing for a rough week. As Congressman Jim Moran pointed out, “it would worsen the VA disabilities claims backlog … halt new business loans through the SBA, stop food assistance, including school lunches for 13 million children .…”

Children must still go to school and learn and millions of veterans stuck in a sea of red tape are about to take another knock as claims sit while they suffer. This is unacceptable. I urge my federal delegation, which has done so much already, to continue to work hard to bring both sides together and broker a sensible compromise and get the federal government open for business.

On top of pain and suffering, the government shutdown that began this morning will cause chaos and confusion to the Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”) Marketplace Exchange that goes into effect on Oct. 1.

The program is fully funded and is not affected by the shutdown. The Marketplace is going to be a valuable tool to millions of Americans and Virginians who will now be able to shop for health insurance. Even if your employer offers health insurance, it is a good idea to check out the marketplace and compare prices and plans. Many independent insurance brokers around the state have been studying up on the law and are ready to provide individualized advice to those who need help wading through all the facts and figures.

As I told the Virginia Young Democrats, the federally facilitated health exchange provides the opportunity for health insurance to about 140,000 Virginians between 18-24. While young people often feel invincible, participation can give young adults (and their parents) peace of mind. For those with health issues and entry-level jobs with no coverage, this is a vital lifeline. For those who are healthy, it provides a way to stay healthy. Young adults who engage regularly with the health care system can have minor issues caught before needing expensive treatment. Healthier young people lead to healthier middle-aged and elderly people, creating a healthier risk pool for insurers and, over time, healthier and longer-living Americans. Now that’s something we can all support.