On Oct. 1, the Department of Health and Human Services launched new health insurance exchanges despite a government shutdown that furloughed more than half of its employees. Yesterday, in the second attempt to selectively restart parts of the federal government, the House of Representatives passed a measure to restore funding for the National Institutes of Health.
The spending bill, introduced by Rep. Jack Kingston (R-Ga.), would provide immediate funding for the NIH “at the same rate and under the same conditions as in effect at the end of the just completed fiscal year,” according to the bill, at least through Dec. 15.
“Reports suggest that NIH may turn away patients as a result of the shutdown,” according to a statement on the House Republican Conference website.
The American Public Health Association immediately issued a statement opposing the measure.
“While NIH funds important medical research that we strongly support, funding other critical agencies such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Health Resources and Services Administration is essential to saving lives, preventing disease and disability, conducting disease surveillance, protecting and responding in times of crisis, ensuring the safety of our food, training health care professionals and providing care to the nation’s most vulnerable,” the statement read.
Meanwhile, PubMed, the online service of the National Library of Medicine, remains affected by the shutdown. Its website, like many other government sites, now reminds users that it is being “maintained with minimal staffing ... Information will be updated to the extent possible, and the agency will attempt to respond to urgent operational inquiries.”
A summary of President Barack Obama’s meeting Wednesday night with Congressional leaders offered little hope for any agreement on selective agency funding.
“The president made clear to the leaders that he is not going to negotiate over the need for Congress to act to reopen the government or to raise the debt limit to pay the bills Congress has already incurred,” according to the summary.
Healio.com spoke with members of the medical community to determine what effects – if any – the shutdown is having on clinical practice, patients and medical research.