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The Shutdown’s impact on healthcare

Note – this is a repost; a system problem prevented email notifications for the original post.

Is rather modest – until it isn’t.

Preparing for the next pandemic, monitoring food safety, preventive health services for at-risk people, new drug approvals – all are on hold or severely curtailed as the Federal government shutdown heads towards its fourth week.

Fortunately, funding for most health-related federal programs – the VA, Medicare and Medicaid, other CMS programs – was approved before the current impasse, so most of us will not be affected.

That is, if the shutdown is resolved soon. If not, the downstream effects are going to be felt more deeply – by more of us.

While it may seem like there’s not much impact on most of us, that would be wrong. Specific departments’ policies, funding approval processes, budgetary allocations and the like are often affected by other agencies. For example, there are significant pending changes to healthcare IT standards which must be approved before hospitals, healthcare systems, and other providers and payers can update their systems to comply with Federal laws and regulations.

Programmers are waiting for guidance, and will keep waiting until the deadlock is over. Some of these system updates have deadlines; while the deadlines should be extended if and when the politicos agree to a deal, what should happen in Washington – and did back when adults ran our government – often doesn’t.

This is just one example – and there are hundreds more. Reality is we live in an incredibly complex world, the Federal government is tasked with making sure that world is safe, non-toxic, operates well and does so efficiently. And most government workers are committed to doing that well.

The problem isn’t the workers; it is the press that vilifies them and the politicians that blame government workers for problems the politicians create and exacerbate.

Of course, for those who want to use our national treasure – the National Parks… if the knuckleheads in DC don’t get their stuff together, the Parks may be their own public health crisis.

What does this mean for you?

There are dozens of ways the government affects our lives – almost all of which we don’t know about or appreciate until it’s gone.

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Joe Paduda is the principal of Health Strategy Associates




A national consulting firm specializing in managed care for workers’ compensation, group health and auto, and health care cost containment. We serve insurers, employers and health care providers.



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