As most readers probably know, a partial government “shut-down” has been caused by a stand-off between congressional Democrats and President Trump over whether to fund a “wall” on the nation’s southern border. At this point, it is not clear how or when the situation will change. See New Bipartisan Senate Group Facing Uphill Climb In Bid to End Shutdown (Roll Call, 1/15/19).
The appropriations bill for the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) was enacted before the shut-down, so most health programs are not affected. Nonetheless, there are still serious health repercussions from the shut-down’s impact on other departments’ programs. See How the Government Shutdown Affects Health Programs (Kaiser Health News, 1/3/19).
The Indian Health Service (HIS) has not been funded, causing significant hardships for those who rely on it. See Shutdown Puts Strain on Hundreds of Native American Tribes (ABC News, 1/12/19). The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) also remains unfunded, halting progress on drug approvals, clinical trials, and most routine inspections of domestic food facilities. On Monday, FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb tweeted, however, that food inspections in high-risk facilities would resume this week. For more details, see FY 2019 HHS Contingency Staffing Plan for Operations in the Absence of Enacted Annual Agriculture and Interior Appropriations.
Nutrition assistance programs are also affected. In a January 8 press release, Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Purdue announced that food stamps provided under the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) can be provided through February (by issuing the benefits by January 20), along with benefits provided by the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC). See Food Stamps Guaranteed Through February, USDA Says (CNN, 1/8/19). School meal programs can be funded through March. If the shut-down continues beyond February or March, however, it is not clear what will happen with these programs.
Certain TRICARE beneficiaries will also be affected – some of those who receive allotments through the U.S. Coast Guard pay center to pay enrollment fees and dental premiums. See the “TRICARE” section, below.