Claims payment will continue, but shutdown imperils several HHS programs
During the first morning of the government shutdown, Senators took to the floor to declare their support for the Children's Health Insurance Program. The popular program, which provides health coverage for 9 million low-income children, has become a political hot potato in the bitter debate over government spending.
At the same time, House Republican and Democratic leaders huddled Saturday to see if they could find an end to the impasse. Aides from both sides say there is no clear solution in sight today.
Patrick Conway, a former CMS administrator who managed operations through previous shutdowns, said these stalemates interfere massively with day-to-day operations and morale, even if claims continue to get paid for at least a few weeks via contractor.
HHS posted details on how the shutdown will impact operations. Here are some highlights:
- 40,959 staff, or roughly 50% of the workforce, will be furloughed
- Agencies with grant-making authority will be the hardest hit with furloughs
- Indian Health Services will continue to provide direct clinical care
- Health Resources and Services Administration will continue funding programs that aren't dependent upon annual appropriations
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will "continue minimal support" to protect public health and response to "outbreak investigations, processing laboratory samples, and maintaining the agency's 24/7 emergency operations center."
- Food and Drug Administration will continue "limited activities related to user fee funded programs."
- CMS will continue open enrollment eligibility verification. Due to the previous continuing resolution, state Medicaid programs are funded through the second quarter.
- HRSA won't fund Children's Hospital GME and vaccine injury compensation claims
- National Institutes of Health will not admit new patients, unless medically necessary.
- Agency for Health Research and Quality will not fund new grants
- Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology won't move forward on coordinating standards. ONC also won't be able to work on improving interoperability, as mandated by the 21st Century Cures Act.
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