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Senate votes to reopen government, averts major setback to health agencies

Here's a look at HHS, ONC and CDC plans during a government shutdown.

Susan Morse, Senior Editor

Debate on the Senate floor on Jan. 22. Credit: C-spanDebate on the Senate floor on Jan. 22. Credit: C-span

The Senate voted on Monday to approve a temporary funding measure that keeps the government running through Feb. 8. 

The vote came after the government had been shut down for two days with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services contingency plans already kicking in as of Monday morning when about 50 percent of its staff stayed home on furlough.

The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology is not operating. However, the NIH is continuing care for current NIH Clinical Center patients.

A contingency staffing plan is keeping other operations going, including Medicare and Medicaid payments, though an extended shutdown could result in delays in claims processing, audits, and other administrative functions.

In the short term, the Medicare program will continue largely without disruption during a lapse in appropriations, according to HHS.

States will have sufficient funding for Medicaid through the second quarter.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services will maintain the staff necessary to make payments to eligible states from remaining Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) carryover balances.

CMS is continuing key federal exchange activities, such as open enrollment verification.

Other ongoing HHS activities include substance abuse and mental health services for treatment referral and the suicide prevention lifeline.

The Administration for Children and Families and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), along with child support and foster care services continues.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is maintaining its 24/7 emergency operations center. 

The CDC will continue to track the data on the flu, which has been virulent this season.

Twitter: @SusanJMorse
Email the writer: susan.morse@himssmedia.com

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