Why the government shutdown should matter to you

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Elizabeth Leis Newman
Elizabeth Leis Newman

One of the benefits of social media is that you find out people you follow are occasionally idiots.

Nothing has brought this out as much as the government shutdown.

My favorite bon mot was a person who essentially said, “Who cares? What has the government done for me recently?”

I refrained from making a list for him, ranging from the Federal Aviation Administration making sure his plane doesn't crash when he travels for business, to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention telling him if there is a flu outbreak in his area, to the Food and Drug Administration making sure he doesn't die from salmonella in nuts.

Luckily for him, he's not a veteran. The Department of Veterans Affairs has said that the checks it issues for disability and benefits will likely stop if the government shutdown lasts more than two weeks. Luckily for him, he's not a small business owner in Arizona depending on some of the $2.7 million spent in the state in October. Luckily for him, he's not one of the 30 children turned away from being in a National Institutes of Health trial.

And luckily for him, he's not a federal employee living paycheck to paycheck.

Much like long-term care, government as an entity is one of those things people don't think about until they need it. It's popular for those in healthcare to feel that government is an albatross around our necks, whether it's pushing more regulations, denying Medicare claims or implementing the Affordable Care Act. Who are those soulless bureaucrats, we wonder.

What it's easy to forget is that every entity of government has people, just like you, who work every day for a cause they believe in. Their branch, like the Environmental Protection Agency or National Endowment for the Arts, may not be a part of a career path you would want to choose. But they deserve respect, and the chance to get back to work.

That means House Republicans have to budge. You may want to parrot their complaints about how no one is willing to talk to them about a compromise. They're right, and it's because the Affordable Care Act was passed and signed in 2010. It was taken to court and upheld as constitutional. House Republicans have tried to repeal it up to 40 times. They've failed. President Obama was re-elected in November. Even healthcare experts against the ACA who were waiting for a repeal, Supreme Court decision or a Mitt Romney victory acknowledged last year that there was a time when you face reality.

I know I wrote a few weeks ago about how it's OK to fail and to keep trying. But that's about personal goals, not holding an entire country hostage to angry toddler behavior.

Elizabeth Newman is Senior Editor at McKnight's Long-Term Care News.


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Daily Editors' Notes

McKnight's Daily Editors' Notes features commentary on the latest in long-term care news and issues. Entries are written by Editorial Director John O'Connor, Editor James M. Berklan, Senior Editor Elizabeth Newman and Staff Writer Marty Stempniak.