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Medicare, Medicaid To Keep Running Despite U.S. Government Shutdown

But other programs, such as disease surveillance, food and drug inspections, could be curtailed, according to contingency plans

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President Barack Obama has echoed those remarks.

"On Tuesday, about 40 million more Americans will be able to finally buy quality, affordable health care, just like anybody else," Obama said. He added that the new health insurance marketplaces "will be open for business on Tuesday no matter what -- even if there's a government shutdown. That's a done deal."

People will be able to go to their state health exchange online or over the phone and begin registering for 2014 coverage, even if they live in one of the 34 states in which the federal government either wholly or partially operates the health insurance exchange.

The Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services (CMS) will continue coordination between Medicaid and state marketplaces, guiding eligible people with low incomes into the program. CMS said it will also continue to perform such health-care industry assessments as insurance rate reviews, which are mandated by the Affordable Care Act.

But, a number of important government-run health-care functions will be disrupted during the shutdown, the HHS contingency plan said. Some of these include:

  • The seasonal influenza program operated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which tracks flu outbreaks across state lines using genetic and molecular analysis. The CDC also will be hampered in its efforts to monitor and combat other infectious diseases, such as tuberculosis, hepatitis and sexually transmitted diseases.
  • Routine inspections of food and drug manufacturers and monitoring of imports by the Food and Drug Administration.
  • Senior nutrition and elder abuse programs operated by the Administration for Community Living.
  • Admission of new patients at the National Institutes of Health's Clinical Center.
  • Action on any grants related to medical research, improvement of the health-care system, and monitoring of substance abuse programs.
  • Funding for activities related to medical countermeasures against chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and emerging threats.
  • Medical disaster relief to Colorado in response to the recent flooding.

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