The obvious and immediate impacts of the government shut down are visible before everyone’s eyes – the closing of the national parks, federally owned museums, IRS call centers advising taxpayers and offices handling federal grants, and the furloughing of thousands of federal employees.
What’s not so visible is the impact on America’s already vulnerable healthcare system. No, I am not talking about the hot button topic of Obamacare here. What I am referring to is the negative impact on federal agencies that regulate health and safety.
For example, 60% of the investigators employed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration are on furlough. This means less oversight over our nation’s food supply, vaccines, and medical devices.
With thousands of employees furloughed, the Centers for Disease Control’s (“CDC”) ability to monitor various illnesses throughout the United States has taken a huge hit. A multi-state salmonella outbreak this week caused the CDC to bring back some furloughed employees to help handle the outbreak. In addition, the CDC is currently unable to support its influenza program that monitors the spread of flu.
The National Institutes of Health is unable to admit new research patients unless a child has a life threatening illness. This means that scientific progress in studying disease and new drugs has been virtually halted – which, incidentally does not bode well for the ever increasing prevalence of antibiotic resistant bacteria and the need to develop new drugs to combat the threat of the “superbug.” (Click here for my blog post discussing the threat of the superbug and potential legal remedies).
As a whole, the shutdown adds cracks to an already fragile healthcare industry and could threaten the health and safety of America’s population. So, along with the rest of America, let this blog post be my rallying call to Congress: Work together! Continue the conversation and find a compromise! It’s time to get this government back up and running.