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In the Event of a Government Shutdown

A government shutdown occurs when Congress fails to pass a budget or a continuing resolution before the current budget’s expiration date. Here are some short-term effects of a government shutdown, according to agency contingency plans, that may affect nutrition and dietetics practitioners and the communities we serve.

Updated 11/16/2023: Congress averted a government shutdown and President Biden is expected to sign a bipartisan continuing resolution allowing four federal agencies to operate through January 19, 2024, and the rest, including the Department of Health and Human Services, through February 2, 2024. The Academy calls on Congress to approve appropriations legislation before these deadlines. Contingency plans for agencies across the federal government are available online and will be updated as more plans are posted. We will continue to monitor this issue and provide updates on this page on how the government shutdown would affect the communities we serve.

Capitol building with yellow tape around it. Tape reads "shutdown."A government shutdown occurs when Congress fails to pass a budget or a continuing resolution before the current budget’s expiration date. As a result, federal agencies and departments are left without the necessary funding to operate, causing a cascade of consequences.

Essential government functions may continue, but federal employees may be temporarily suspended and many services may be delayed, interrupted or severely impacted.

Here are some short-term effects of a government shutdown, according to agency contingency plans, that may affect nutrition and dietetics practitioners:

  • Core programs of the U.S. nutrition safety net would continue uninterrupted for the short term, including Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Child Nutrition Programs (CN) and Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC). However, according to statements made by U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack this week, impacts to the families, women, babies and children who participate in WIC will be immediate. There are only one to two days of WIC funding in a USDA contingency fund. Some states with reserve funds that would be able to extend services temporarily, but Vilsack says, “the vast majority of WIC participants would see an immediate reduction and elimination of those benefits, which means the nutrition assistance that's provided would not be available.”
  • UPDATED 11/16/23: Currently it is unclear how a government shutdown would affect the Dietary Guidelines for Americans.
  • FoodData Central (which includes the National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference Legacy Release) website and API for apps and services using its database would continue.
  • The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) Medicare Program would continue, as would other non-discretionary activities including Health Care Fraud and Abuse Control and Center for Medicare & Medicaid Innovation activities. CMS will have sufficient funding for Medicaid to fund the first quarter of FY 2024, based on the advance appropriation provided for in the FY 2023 appropriation. In addition, CMS will maintain the staff necessary to make payments to eligible states for the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP). CMS will continue Federal Exchange activities, such as eligibility verification, using Federal Exchange user fee carryover.
  • The majority of Indian Health Service-funded programs would remain operational, and the provision of care by the Indian Health Service, Tribal Health Programs and Urban Indian Organizations would continue to be funded.
  • The Administration for Community Living (ACL) will continue activities funded through carryover funding provided under the Health Care Fraud and Abuse Control (HCFAC) Account and carryover funding from the Medicare Improvements for Patients and Providers Act (MIPPA). This includes the Senior Medicare Patrol Program and related Medicare program integrity activities as well as Medicare Beneficiary outreach activities. Staff will continue to perform reimbursable work related to managed care consumer information and assistance. Supplemental funding for ACL programs under the Families First Act and the CARES Act has been distributed to grantees and would not be impacted by a lapse in appropriations.
  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention would continue support to protect the health and well-being of U.S. citizens here and abroad through response to outbreaks, maintaining laboratory functions, the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), and the agency's 24/7 emergency operations center. CDC would also continue the World Trade Center (WTC) Health Program, the Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program Act (EEOICPA), and the Vaccines for Children (VFC) program, which are supported through mandatory funding. HHS would use the full extent of the authority under the ADA to protect life and property under a lapse in appropriations. CDC's immediate response to urgent disease outbreaks and critical investigation needs in areas such as food, healthcare, vectors (mosquitoes and ticks), and high-consequence pathogens would continue. CDC would collect data being reported by states, hospitals, and others, and report out critical information needed for state and local health authorities and providers to track, prevent, and treat diseases..
  • The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) will continue activities funded through the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Trust Fund (PCORTF), such as building data capacity for conducting patient-centered outcomes research designed to produce new scientific evidence that better informs and supports health care decisions of both providers and patients.
  • The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) will continue activities funded through mandatory funding, advanced appropriations, prior year carryover funds and user fees. HRSA would continue to oversee many direct health services and other activities funded through carryover balances, such as the Ryan White HIV/AIDS program - Parts A and B and Ending the HIV Epidemic. Additionally, HRSA will continue to oversee the National Practitioner Databank and Hansen's Disease Program using existing balances.
  • The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) activities funded through carryover user fee funding will continue, including the review and approval of new medical products, the review of requests to conduct important clinical research, the issuance of guidance, and other necessary activities to help patients have access to new therapies and important generic and biosimilar treatment options. FDA also would continue detecting and responding to public health emergencies, continuing to address existing critical public health challenges, and managing recalls including drug shortages and outbreaks related to foodborne illness and infectious diseases. Other vital activities are surveillance of adverse event reports for issues that could cause human harm, the review of import entries to determine potential risks to human health, determining and conducting systems for cause and certain surveillance inspections of regulated facilities, and criminal enforcement work and certain civil investigations. Additionally, activities that could be carried out with COVID-19 supplemental funding include work on emergency use authorizations to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, mitigation efforts related to potential drug and medical product shortages and other supply chain disruptions, medical device infection control, work on enforcement actions for fraudulent, counterfeit and misbranded products related to COVID-19, and work on medical countermeasures, therapies, and vaccines and important generic and biosimilar treatment options.
  • The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs reports that veteran health care will not be impacted by the shutdown, with VA Medical Centers, Outpatient Clinics and Vet Centers remaining open. VA benefits will continue to be processed and delivered, including compensation, pension, education and housing benefits. However, VA will not provide veteran career counseling or transition assistance program activities. VA benefits regional offices will be closed.


White House: Agency Contingency Plans (with revision dates)

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