Government shutdown will not cripple long-term care, leaders say

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Long-term care providers will feel some effects but should not experience serious disruptions due to the shutdown of the federal government, according to prominent trade associations.

Despite maneuverings until late Monday, Congress was unable to come to an agreement over a continuing resolution — the measure needed to fund government operations. The House of Representatives, with a Republican majority, had passed bills tying continued government operations to defunding or delaying the Affordable Care Act. The Senate, controlled by Democrats, refused to consider a CR with these provisions attached.

The federal government began shutting down as of midnight.

A shutdown could lead to dramatic consequences, such as furloughs of up to half the staff at the Department of Health and Human Services. However, it should not immediately impact long-term care providers too severely.

LeadingAge and the American Health Care Association reassured members that Medicare and Medicaid reimbursements should continue to flow, at least in the short term.

“Details are not yet available on how a lengthy shutdown (i.e., a month or more) would impact government contractors such as Medicare Administrative Contractors (MACs),” noted AHCA President and CEO Mark Parkinson.

The shutdown likely will lead to fewer initial and recertification surveys for Medicare and Medicaid providers and interrupt the work of healthcare fraud and abuse strike forces, wrote Barbara Gay, director of governmental affairs at LeadingAge.

A government shutdown last occurred 17 years ago.