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Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2013

This Week's News

Government shutdown's impact on health care immediate and long-term

Government shutdowns impact on health care immediate and long-term

While the immediate effects of the government shutdown on U.S. health care—including the cessation of certain services by national health agencies—have been distressing, lasting consequences of the public health funding hiatus also remain a large concern.

According to a FierceHealthcare article, under the shutdown, the National Institute of Health's Clinical Center was forced to turn away the approximately 200 new patients it would have received each week for treatment, a number that includes about 30 children.

Meanwhile, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) had to furlough staff that monitor the spread of the flu and other infectious diseases, including food-borne illnesses. Monitoring infectious outbreaks is particularly critical to public health as the United States begins the peak season for the spread of communicable diseases during the winter months.

A JAMA Network blog post cites additional, less obvious impacts of the shutdown: Many families were vulnerable to losing their federal food aid, while some research studies were postponed.

Further delay in disseminating scientific information was evident at IDweek2013, a major infectious disease conference. According to the JAMA Network blog post, 42 CDC employees and scientists from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the NIH and other agencies were absent from their scheduled presentations.

Read the JAMA Network blog post to learn more about the effects of the government shutdown on U.S. health care.