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Effects of Federal Government Shutdown on Public Health

October 16,2013

Government Shutdown and Debt Ceiling

While the House is discussing what path to take in averting breaching the debt-limit and ending the government shutdown, the Senate is actively moving forward with a plan to move the debt-limit deadline and reopen the government. The framework being negotiated by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell would fund the government through Jan. 15, 2014, and suspend the debt limit until Feb. 7, 2014. Votes on this legislation have not yet been set, and negotiations are ongoing. However, if any Senator were to object to moving forward with the bill, a vote on final passage may be pushed into next week. Additionally, earlier this morning, a bipartisan group of 14 senators, led by Senator Collins (R-Maine) working apart from the separate leadership deal, proposed a bill that would include two year delay in medical device tax authorized in the ACA, and seemingly push the debt limit back and reopen the government. This agreement has been presented to Senate leaders, and details are to be released to the public later today. House leadership has not yet decided on accepting either the Reid-McConnell plan or the plan lead by Senator Collins. Senate Republicans are planning a meeting today at 11 a.m. to discuss the Senate deal (presumably both the Reid-McConnell plan, and the bipartisan proposal).

The House had scheduled a vote on their measure last night, but that was quickly scrubbed with Speaker Boehner stating that he did not believe the votes were there to pass. That legislation would extend the debt-limit and reopen the government, but also included repealing the medical-device tax and would remove federal subsidies for purchasing health care for the president, his Cabinet, and members of Congress and their staff. House democrats were unlikely to support this bill, and conservative members of the House also expressed their disapproval, saying the measure did not go far enough. Things are quickly unfolding, and updates will be released as necessary.