Government Shuts Down, Impacts Healthcare Initiatives

On Tuesday, October 1, the new fiscal year began—but without a federal budget agreed upon by both the US Senate and House of Representatives, the government shutdown at 12:01 a.m. Many Americans, including healthcare professionals, were left asking “How did we get here?” and “What does this mean for me?”

Impact of the Shutdown

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has created a document outlining what services will and will not be affected during the government shutdown. Though services closely related to health information management and healthcare like Medicare payments and Veterans Affairs medical centers will not be impacted, the shutdown does impact Americans as a whole in various ways and also impacts ongoing healthcare-related initiatives.

For example, the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT will be unable to continue the Standards and Interoperability Framework activities as well as related standards and testing activities. Policy activities such as privacy, security, and clinical quality measure development, and the administration of the Certified Health IT Product List, would also stop.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will be unable to support the majority of its food safety, nutrition, and cosmetics activities, according to HHS. The FDA will also have to cease safety activities such as routine establishment inspections, some compliance and enforcement activities, monitoring of imports, and notification programs.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) would be unable to continue discretionary funding for healthcare fraud and abuse strike force teams resulting in the cessation of their operations. Fewer recertification and initial surveys for Medicare and Medicaid providers would be completed, putting beneficiaries at risk of quality of care deficiencies.

An estimated 800,000 federal employees have been furloughed as a result of the break down in budget negotiations that lead to the shutdown. Some employees are exempt from the current shutdown and limited services are still being provided. Services that will continue during the shutdown include, but are not limited to:

  • Provider payments for Medicare and Medicaid claims
  • Social Security payments to beneficiaries
  • Healthcare exchanges
  • Law enforcement and 911 services
  • US Postal Services
  • Most services provided by the Department of Veterans Affairs
  • Military service members will continue to be paid; Department of Defense civilian employees will be furloughed
  • Passport services
What Led to the Shutdown

Historically, the US Senate and House of Representatives (House) consider 12 annual appropriations bills to fund the federal government by the start of the fiscal year. Both chambers of congress must agree on the same legislative language in the bills before they are sent to the President to be signed into law.

If congress does not pass the bills individually, an Omnibus appropriations bill can also be used to fund the federal government for the upcoming fiscal year. If congress does not pass appropriations bills individually or through an Omnibus, then a Continuing Resolution (CR) can be used to continue funding the federal government temporarily.

The 113th Congress is currently debating the terms of a CR to fund the federal government for fiscal year 2014. Without an agreed upon appropriations measure, the government effectively shut down on October 1.

Members of congress are debating over the implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The House version of the CR delays the individual mandate of the ACA for one year. In addition, it would also roll back the Medical Device Tax which is used to fund the ACA implementation. The US Senate has rejected these changes to the CR. This debate resulted in a standoff which ultimately caused the first government shutdown in 17 years.

The House is currently considering three bills that would re-open parts of the federal government. These bills would impact the National Park Service, Department of Veterans Affairs, and the District of Columbia.

Speak Your Mind

To contact your US Senator and US Representative to discuss the government shutdown, visit AHIMA’s Advocacy Assistant at http://www.ahima.org/about/advocacy.

The AHIMA Advocacy and Policy Team (advocacyandpolicy@ahima.org) is based in Washington, DC.

5 Comments

  1. Just a quick Question..Will it effect the Ahima examination (CCA, CCS Etc)?

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  2. Is it all the money/grants given by the Obama Administration to big businesses that has lead to a huge strain on the US budget? Would it have been better to have given the taxpayers a stimulous to evoke an increase in purchases and growth of the economy? Makes you wonder what will happen to health care…….

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  3. You want to say it’s the president who is not doing what is right but we know it’s not the truth. It’s all because he is black and you don’t want to do what he wants. In the end the people are the ones being hurt, you will still get pay and the people want. I’ll keep on praying for the Lord to do what he needs to do for his people.You shut the government down but you can’t shut God down and his well will be done in the end.

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  4. The President has nothing to do with this shutdown. It is the speaker of the house who has decided to satisfy a faction of his part at the expense of the American people. The truth never dies. The Lord shall speak for the American people since the speaker and his faction has held the country hostage.

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  5. Please go back to your basic Legal and Ethics class that you took in order to qualify as an HIM professional. In that class you reviewed your basic civics courses you took in middle school. When I teach my students they need to know that the executive branch (the President) cannot change legislation that has already been passed and validated by the Supreme Court (“Obamacare”) and that the President does not have control of the country’s budget. The budget is controlled by the legislative branch and that is where the problem is. Obama can’t do anything about it as even my associate level students know.

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