Friday, April 8th, 2011 - 9:57
Friday, April 8, 2011 - 09:36
The implementation of health reform will not stop if there is a government shutdown, an HHS official says.
The tough task of implementing health reform will largely move forward, even in a government shutdown, according to an HHS official and guidelines issued by the agency.
An HHS official told reporters that implementation will mostly move forward because it has already been authorized and funded by the Affordable Care Act.
Additionally, a contingency staffing plan issued by HHS orders 47, 693 staff to be furloughed and 28,655 employees to continue working. In other words, 38 percent of HHS staff would remain on the job.
The staffing plan explicitly says that the Center for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight would continue because its funding was provided by ACA. This office is in charge of insurance rate reviews, establishing exchanges and running the high-risk pool.
The HHS official did say that regulation writing could be "significantly hindered" because staffers tackling that task are funded with discretionary dollars. In the unlikely event of a lengthy shutdown, it would seem that the issuance of regulations under health reform could be pushed back. HHS hopes to have final rules for accountable care organizations later this year and is trying to determine what constitutes an "essential benefit."