What the Government Shutdown Means for Healthcare Programs

Captial Building Washington D.C.

With the government unable to come to an agreement about the National budget, it is inevitable that Saturday we will see a government shut down. This will impact many of the federal departments and many people.

ModernHealthcare.com talks about the impact the government shutdown will have on Medicare and National Institutes of Health.

The Medicare program would continue to be funded if the government shuts down later this week, but other HHS programs would not, a senior administration official told reporters Wednesday, April 6, 2011.

With the latest short-term spending bill expiring April 8, administration officials are preparing for a federal government shutdown that now appears imminent. One official said President Barack Obama has made it clear that a shutdown would threaten the country’s economic recovery, but added, “From a good-housekeeping perspective, we’re cognizant that it’s Wednesday and that all agencies are prepared with contingency plans.”

That includes HHS, which has submitted its operations plan to the Office of Management and Budget. At deadline, an OMB representative had not responded to questions about the status of the plan and its details. One official on the call with reporters cited HHS’ National Institutes of Health as a program that would be affected by the shutdown. Current clinical trials would continue to be funded, but new patients and new trials would not be accepted.

According to officials, government activities fall into two categories: those that have other funding sources, such as user fees or multiyear funding; and those that are necessary for the safety of life and property, such as the nation’s military and law-enforcement activities. Essential services that would be affected include the closing of national parks, the suspension of tax refunds for paper-filed returns, and federal loans for small businesses and homes.

At deadline, HHS had not responded to a question regarding continued funding for Medicaid.

What are your thoughts about the government shutdown?

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