Initial Effects of a Government Shutdown on Medicare, Medicaid Minimal
As the possibility of a government shutdown grows greater by the hour, news media all over the country are offering accounts of what exactly the effects of a federal government stoppage would entail for the economy and the nation. In the case of 1996, it’s essentially déjà vu all over again; the conflict that pitted then-President Bill Clinton against the Contract with America architect and House Speaker Newt Gingrich was essentially a showdown over Medicare spending and public healthcare delivery.
[UPDATE: Government shutdown averted as Dems and GOP strike literal 11th hour deal.]
Fast forward fifteen years and President Obama, Sen. Maj. Leader Reid, and House Speaker Boehner are at a similar ideological stalemate. Although the principal pursuits which led to this moment deal with the budget deficit as an overarching factor, the cost of Medicare and Medicaid to taxpayers is certainly part of the mix. According to the OMB, beneficiaries of these entitlements should be okay, at least in the short term. Officials with the budget agency say that both Medicare and Medicaid are not funded via annual appropriations, and as such, would not be affected in the manner of other programs that do have an annual funding source.
Patients will still receive care. Payments will still be made to providers, hospitals, and other care entities which submit bills for services rendered. If the budget impasse resulted in a protracted government shutdown, the outlook is a little murkier. Salaries for workers within CMS and for those who work in private insurance company settings (that process Medicare claims, for example) are appropriated yearly — and would definitely be affected with payment delays followed by back pay allowances once things get back on track.