Congress is still tied in knots, unable to fund the federal government because some Republicans want to eliminate funding for health care reform.

Ten days have passed since the roll out of health exchanges, the marketplaces created by the Affordable Care Act for people to shop for and enroll in insurance programs.

So how is it going?

Much attention has been focused on problems with the federal website. But the news from the states is better.

In California, 978,000 people logged on to the exchange,, in the first week. The three call centers logged 59,000. More than 16,300 people completed applications, according to state figures, with about 27,300 partially completed applications. Insurance coverage takes effect Jan. 1.

Peter Lee, the executive director of Covered California, called the first week's numbers "nothing short of phenomenal."

"The response of consumers has underscored the demand," he said at a news conference in Sacramento on Tuesday.

OK, but those rosy results are from California, a deep-blue state where health care reform polls well and Obamacare isn't an epithet. What about red-state America?

Many, but not all, of the red states didn't create exchanges, leaving their residents to enroll through the federal website.

One exception is Kentucky, a state where Mitt Romney carried 60.5 percent of the vote and both senators and five of six House members are Republicans.

Kentucky also has low incomes and more than a half-million citizens without health insurance. So maybe it's not so surprising that within two days Kentucky's health exchange had 6,900 completed applications and almost 3,000 families enrolled in insurance plans.

By Monday, the Kentucky governor's office said, 15,000 applications were completed — nearly matching California, a state with almost 10 times the population.

Other states have reported strong interest and few problems with their exchanges. The list includes Rhode Island, Connecticut and Washington.

Yet in many places where Obamacare is unpopular and the government shutdown isn't, there is no exchange. Residents of 36 states must use the federal health exchange,, where computer servers have been overloaded at times by the volume of Internet traffic. In other words, these are people looking for insurance.

Officials have yet to release any breakdown of how many people are applying via the federal exchange, or what states they come from. Yet it would appear that some of the people telling pollsters they oppose Obamacare are nonetheless shopping for low-cost health insurance.

It's far too soon to declare the Affordable Care Act a success or, as some critics already have, a failure. Challenges lie ahead, some obvious — such as cost controls — others unforeseen.

Obamacare is a new approach. It deserves careful scrutiny, and it may need adjustments as it's implemented. But health care reform has been debated, approved and affirmed by voters and the courts. It deserves a chance to work, and it's off to a promising start.