Opponents Of Reform Want To Shut Down The Government To Defund Health Care For NJ

October 01, 2010 3:51 pm ET

In a back-door move to eliminate critical services provided under the new health care reform law, some opponents of reform may seek to shut down the federal government in order to defund the program. By failing to authorize federal funds for key components of the health care reform law, these individuals would deny thousands of New Jersey residents critical health services that are available through Medicare, Medicaid, and even Veterans Affairs.

Shutting Down The Federal Government Would Deny Health Care To Many Garden Staters

A Government Shutdown Would Prevent The Distribution Of Social Security Checks, Medicare Reimbursements And State Aid For Medicaid. According to Talking Points Memo, Donna Shalala, the Secretary of Health and Human Services during the 1995 and 1996 government shutdowns, said that among the functions that would be stopped with a government shutdown are "Social Security checks, Medicare reimbursements...welfare checks to the state, [and] Medicaid checks to the state." [Talking Points Memo, 9/2/10]

If The Federal Government Were To Shut Down...

  • More Than 1.3 Million New Jersey Residents Might Not Receive Full Medicare Coverage. If the federal government were to shut down, health care providers for the roughly 1,316,000 New Jersey residents enrolled in Medicare might not receive Medicare reimbursement checks. [Kaiser Family Foundation, accessed 9/24/10; Medicare.gov, 7/1/09]
  • Over 161,000 New Jersey Residents Might Encounter Limited Prescription Drug Coverage. Roughly 161,000 New Jersey residents are enrolled in Medicare's prescription drug benefit plan, which might go unfunded if the federal government were to shut down. [Kaiser Family Foundation, accessed 9/24/10; Medicare.gov, accessed 9/24/10]

The Government Shutdowns Of 1995 And 1996 Suspended Critical Health Services, Including...

A "Major Curtailment" Of Veterans' Health Services. During the government shutdowns of 1995 and 1996, there was a "major curtailment" of services provided through the Veterans Administration. [Congressional Research Service, 11/8/99]

  • Payment Of Benefits For 3.3 Million Veterans Was Threatened By The Shut Down. CNN reported during the 1995 shut down that "if the second shutdown isn't over by Thursday morning, veterans' benefit checks for more than 3.3 million people would be delayed." [CNN, 12/18/95]
  • The Government Shutdown Placed 34,000 VA Employees On Furlough And Cut Pay For Another 202,000 VA Employees - Mostly At VA Medical Facilities - During The Holiday Season. According to the Chattanooga Free Press, the December 1995 shut down furloughed 34,000 Veterans Administration (VA) officials and delayed payment to "202,000 [VA] workers on duty, the largest force among unfunded agencies, most of them in its 172 medical facilities."  [Chattanooga Free Press, 12/27/95, via LexisNexis]

Monitoring The Spread Of The Flu And Other Diseases. According to the Congressional Research Service, during the December 1995 shutdown, "New patients were not accepted into clinical research at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Clinical Center; the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ceased disease surveillance (information about the spread of diseases, such as AIDS and flu, were unavailable); hotline calls to NIH concerning diseases were not answered; and toxic waste clean-up work at 609 sites stopped, resulting in 2,400 'Superfund' workers being sent home." [Congressional Research Service, 9/20/04]

The Furlough Of Roughly 800,000 Federal Employees. According to the Congressional Research Service, the first government shutdown in November of 1995 lasted for five consecutive days and "resulted in the furlough of an estimated 800,000 federal employees." [Congressional Research Service, 9/20/04]

  • Forced 475,000 "Essential" Federal Employees "To Work In A Non-Pay Status." According to the Congressional Research Service: "The second FY1996 partial shutdown of the federal government, and the longest in history, began on December 16, 1995, and ended on January 6, 1996, after the White House and Congress agreed on a new resolution...to fund the government through January 26, 1996. On January 2, 1996, the estimate of furloughed federal employees was 284,000. Another 475,000 federal employees, rated 'essential,' continued to work in a non-pay status. The shutdown was triggered by the expiration of a continuing funding resolution enacted on November 20...which funded the government through December 15, 1995." [Congressional Research Service, 9/20/04]
  • Roughly 80,300 Federal Employees Live In New Jersey. According to The National Treasury Employees Union, the 2006 American Community Survey indicated that roughly 80,300 New Jersey residents worked for the federal government. [American Community Survey via The National Treasury Employee Union, accessed 9/27/10]