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Despite the federal government shutdown triggered by an argument over funding for the Affordable Care Act, popularly dubbed Obamacare, California is moving forward this morning with the launch of Covered California, the new statewide insurance exchange called for under the health care reform law.

State Assemblywomen Toni Atkins and Lorena Gonzalez joined a host of state health care administrators and representatives from Sharp and Kaiser Permanente, two of the six insurers who have signed up to offer coverage under the new program, who staged a press conference this morning backing up to the Pacific in Ocean Beach. The site was one of several picturesque locations chosen throughout the state for launch announcements, and events are ongoing throughout the day.

“We need to get the word out – 40 percent of San Diego’s South Bay, the district I represent, are currently uninsured,” said Gonzalez, who added that “thousands” of her constituents would likely be among as many as two million Californians to gain insurance coverage through the Affordable Care Act.

Officials said the official Covered California website had already experienced slowdowns due to a high influx of traffic from individuals seeking to sign up for coverage. At publication time the “get started” link to the site failed to load any content.

One thing the event didn’t do was enroll any actual patients. One woman heard about the event and decided to show up, hoping to enroll in a plan, but despite a tent advertising “Enroll Here,” sign-ups did not appear to be taking place on site.

“I’m partially employed,” she told the Reader, “and paying way too much for my insurance now.” As the event concluded she was hoping to approach one of the speakers for guidance.

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