By Troy Zimmerman, Vice President, Government Relations, National Kidney Foundation
As you may know, the U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate were unable to reach a compromise to fund Federal agencies for the fiscal year that began October 1, 2013. This has resulted in a shutdown of the Federal Government for the first time in 17 years. However, many vital government services including Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, and mail service will continue. The Health Insurance Marketplaces created by the Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”) also remain unaffected and opened for enrollment today, as scheduled. The uninsured are able to start exploring their options for health insurance now through March 31, 2014 (visit www.healthcare.gov for more information).
While Social Security benefits will be paid to those who are currently enrolled due to age or disability, new applications for Social Security and Disability benefits are unlikely to be considered during the shutdown, which may delay decisions. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits—formerly known as food stamps—will also continue, at least through October.
We know many kidney patients rely on vital government services and thankfully since many of these programs are mandatory spending programs and not subject to annual funding decisions, they will continue. Hopefully, Congress and the President can reach an agreement to restore other services and benefits and pay for Federal workers soon.