Despite a meeting between President Donald Trump and various members of Congress, officials have not come to an agreement to end the partial government shutdown, which began Dec. 22. While the majority of the federal government’s public health efforts are continuing as usual, several agencies, including the FDA, are at a loss for funding as long as the temporary closure is in place, Kaiser Health News reports.
Here are five things to know:
1. Congress has already passed five major appropriations bills, which were responsible for funding roughly 75 percent of the federal government, including HHS and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. However, seven bills are still outstanding, including bills funding the Interior, Agriculture and Justice departments, the report states.
2. While the government’s flagship programs, like Medicare, Medicaid and the ACA, are insulated from the effects of the shutdown, other public health agencies are beginning to feel the squeeze from narrowing funding streams. For example, the FDA’s food safety operations are funded through the Department of Agriculture, which has been affected by the shutdown. The FDA’s contingency plan states that in the event of a shutdown, roughly 40 percent of the the agency’s workforce is furloughed.
3. Funding for the Indian Health Service — which is funded by the Department of the Interior — has also not been approved, meaning that the only IHS’ services currently available are those that meet the “immediate needs of the patients, medical staff, and medical facilities,” according to the agency’s contingency plan cited by Kaiser Health News. Many IHS facilities across the country remain open, with staffers reporting to work because they are necessary employees and “excepted” from the furlough, an agency spokesperson told the publication.
4. The Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Health Affairs has also been scaling back its resources to survey threats posed by infectious diseases, pandemics, and biological and chemical attacks, the report states.
5. Roughly 800,000 federal employees nationwide have been affected by the shutdown and have found themselves in financial uncertainty, a New York City-based New York University professor told CNBC. One IRS employee told CNBC he cannot afford his more than $200 insulin prescription because he doesn’t know when he will begin work again.