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Some Health Services to Resume Under New Government Shutdown Deal

A new deal will end the 35-day partial government shutdown for three weeks, restoring operations for health-related services outside of CMS.

Government shutdown, Medicare, and Medicaid

Source: Thinkstock

By Jacqueline LaPointe

- After 35 days of a partial government shutdown, President Trump and Congressional leaders reached a deal to reopen the government for three weeks.

President Trump anticipates signing the deal as soon as Friday, Jan. 25, 2019 to restore government operations through Feb. 15, 2019, national news sources are reporting. The deal will allow Congress and the federal government to restore normal operations while policymakers continue to negotiate a deal that will provide long-term funding.

The deal ends the longest partial government shutdown in US history.

The deal is a temporary compromise for the Trump Administration and policymakers. President Trump has promised to deny any deal that does not include $5.7 billion to develop a border wall on the US’ southwestern border.

The most recent deal will reopen the government, allowing federal workers to get paid. National news sources recently reported that a lack of pay has resulted in national security and operations issues. For example, the New York Times reported on Friday, Jan. 25, 2019, that air traffic slowed because of a shortage of air traffic controllers. The controllers called in sick.

The temporary pause from the partial government shutdown will provide policymakers and the Trump Administration with some time to negotiate a border security plan to be included in a long-term funding plan.

However, if both parties fail to agree, the federal government will shut down again.

For healthcare providers, the deal means business as usual for Medicare and Medicaid.

The partial government shutdown did not have an impact on Medicare and Medicaid. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) stressed in late December 2018 when the partial government shutdown started that CMS and its programs were not affected.

The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) also assured funding of healthcare insurance coverage for federal workers during the duration of the shutdown.

However, the new deal will impact some health-related services run by HHS.

Andy Schneider, Research Professor of the Practice at the Georgetown University McCourt School of Public Policy, explained that HHS has appropriations through Sept. 30. However, funding for some of its agencies, like the Indian Health Services (HIS) and Food and Drug Administration (FDA), run from appropriation bills for departments that are not being funded.

“HHS’s plan for dealing with these shortfalls is to furlough 24 percent of its employees,” he said. “In the case of the IHS, the agency can continue to staff and operate its hospitals and clinics but it is no longer able to provide the majority of funds for Tribes and Urban Indian Programs to operate their own facilities.”

FDA operations have particularly been impacted by the partial government shutdown. The agency halted inspections on certain domestic products in light of the shutdown.

The deal will restore operations for the federal agencies and departments at least until Feb. 15, 2019.

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