For the first time since 2019, congressional gridlock is poised to at least temporarily shut down big parts of the federal government including many health programs.
If it happens, some government functions would stop completely and some in part, while others wouldn’t be immediately affected — including Medicare, Medicaid, and health plans sold under the Affordable Care Act.
But a shutdown would complicate the lives of everyone who interacts with any federal health program, as well as the people who work at the agencies administering them.
Mandatory spending programs, like Medicare, have permanent funding and don’t need Congress to act periodically to keep them running. But the Department of Health and Human Services is full of discretionary programs including at the National Institutes of Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, community health centers, and HIV/AIDS initiatives that must be specifically funded by Congress through annual appropriations bills.