Affordable Care Act forum held in Prince George's County

LAUREL, Md. (WJLA) - Healthcare has taken center stage. President Obama's Affordable Care Act was the cause of the standoff leading to the shutdown of the Federal government.

On Saturday, the Prince George's County Department of Social Services held the first of many Affordable Care Act forums.

Area residents gathered at Laurel High School to learn more about the new healthcare act and get assistance with enrollment.

The event was held by Sen. James Rosapepe of District 21.

"In Washington, the Tea Party Republicans are closing down the government so my constituents can't get health insurance," said Sen. Rosapepe. "Here in Maryland, we're open on Saturday to make sure our constituents can get affordable health insurance.

Around 125 people signed up for enrollment assistance. The Maryland Health Connection bus was also on-site to give locals more information about the new plan.

Enrollment for the Affordable Care Act went live on four days ago. While the Obama Administration said 4.7 million people visited the website on the first day, they have yet to release the actual number of Americans that have signed up for the coverage.

In Prince George's County, residents still had many questions about the enrollment process and what the new plan meant for them.

"I'm hoping... to have one of the representatives explain to me all the alternatives of healthcare that I can possibly sign up for," explained Laurel resident Leslie Rayfield.

Website technical difficulties have led the site to crash, leaving people unable to complete their applications. The Health and Human Services Department says enrollment features of will not be available during off-peak hours this weekend for maintenance.

Residents will have six months to sign up for a healthcare plan. The open enrollment period is from October 1 through March 31, 2014.