As the federal government goes into its 20th day of the partial shutdown, the shockwaves are starting to become more and more apparent for both federal workers and private citizens. With each passing day, the shutdown becomes closer and closer to the longest shut down in federal history.
The current federal government shutdown is impacting 800,000 public servants. 380,000 have been furloughed while the other 420,000 work without pay.
The days have turned into weeks, and with no end in sight, the weeks will likely turn into a month, if not more. While this is not a complete government shutdown, the affects are starting to ring loud for your health, and the healthcare field.
The Food and Drug Administration, which monitors food-borne illnesses has had its agency furloughed by 40%. As of Wednesday, the FDA has greatly reduced its inspection of domestic foods such as seafood, soft cheeses and leafy vegetables. This comes after 2018 having several E.coli outbreaks from romaine lettuce resulting in over a hundred being hospitalized and several deaths.
The most recent E.coli outbreak resulted in 62 people contracting the illness.
The largest group of Americans that are at risk health wise from this shutdown are those in the Native Communities. Indian Health Services, which provides healthcare to native tribes has completely run out of funding and is currently only providing services that meet an ”immediate need of the patient, medical staff and or medical facilities.” While still tending to immediate needs is a positive note, we all know that this still leaves those with chronic illnesses from receiving the care they need. Without proper care, this chronic illness can quickly become an immediate need and overwhelm the limited resources that Indian health services is currently working with.
Though many are affected by this shutdown, some of the most vital programs have been spared. Prior spending bills have funded ¾ of the government. Those budgets fund major agencies like Health and Human Services and the Center for Disease Control. This means that programs such as Medicaid and Medicare will continue to run as usual and the CDC can continue its regular flu season procedures. Along with these major programs, the Department of Veterans Affairs is also fully funded through 2019 and will continue to see and administer care to veterans.
With negotiations ongoing, there still seems to be no real end to the shutdown in sight. Once a deal is struck, the true impact of the shutdown will soon come to light.