News 12 at 6 o' clock/ October 1, 2013
AUGUSTA, Ga.--For the first time in 17 years, the federal government has closed for business. It's giving families in our area an unscheduled and unpaid vacation day. Democrats and Republicans have not been able to reach an agreement, meaning the shutdown will continue.
Despite the shutdown, open enrollment for insurance under the Affordable Care Act began Tuesday. Terri Gant is a navigator for the Affordable Care Act. Her job is to answer any questions about the confusing new law, and help people sign up for health insurance.
She says, "When I got here early this morning, people were already lined up around 8:30 to ask questions," she said.
She answered questions about healthcare coverage all morning, but we had a question of our own: Since navigators are federal employees, would she be furloughed like thousands of other federal employees around the country?
She says, "Right now, there has been no talk. We're going on with business as usual."
That isn't the case for many other federal workers who were sent home without pay Tuesday. One Ft. Gordon employee told us, "We don't know when we get to go back to work, but the people working for the Affordable Care Act are still employed...it doesn't add up."
He's just one of at least 490 civilian employees at Fort Gordon who are furloughed while Congress sorts out their differences. Ft. Gordon employees were instructed not to make any comments about the shutdown, or there would be consequences when they returned to work, so we disguised him to keep his job safe.
He says, "Why is this part of government being allowed to continue and we are being sent home?"
It's a frustrating question the President touched on in an address to the country, Tuesday, when he said, "Because of its funding sources, it's not impacted by a government shutdown."
Navigators like Gant, are being payed through a Health and Human Services grant that doesn't fall under funds appropriated by Congress, but for workers who rely on those funds to pay the bills, they're hoping Congress reaches an agreement sooner rather than later.