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Eight Ways the Government Shutdown Can Affect Your Health

How the stalemate impacts everything from food security to enrollment in clinical trials

It’s been more than a week since the federal government packed up and shut down because the Dems and the Republicans couldn’t see eye to eye on the budget. With these federal agencies shut down temporarily and some benefits halted, some Americans will suffer more than others when it comes to their health. Read how the government being MIA isn’t good for food security, Obamacare,nutrition assistance and more.
Obamacare Enrollment Could Be Affected. While Obamacare is still in effect, the computer glitches that need to get fixed will have to happen with less folks around given that so many workers have been sent home. This could be a serious problem for younger Americans who strive to buy their health care online if the site isn’t working properly, writes Buzzfeed.
No New Patients Added to Clinical Trials. For life-saving clinical trials headed up by the National Institute of Health, no new patients will be added to the mix during the shutdown. The Wall Street Journal reported that this translates into 200 new patients, including 30 children.
The CDC’s Work Is Very Limited. The good news: The CDC will continue to provide “minimal assistance” to certain health issues such as outbreaks and lab processing. The bad news: They have suspended their annual flu program, which means they will not be tracking where the illness is most prevalent. (You can still get a flu vaccine though. Most vaccines have been shipped to pharmacies and doctors already.)
Your Prescriptions Could Be More Expensive. Because the Health Resources and Services Administration is on lockdown, the 340B federal drug discount program—a program that requires drug companies to provide drugs at a low cost—isn’t allowing new enrollment for the October 1-15 period. However, for those already in the program, their discounts will still be honored.
Families May Go Hungry. The United States Department of Agriculture says that their Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children only has enough funding for the month of October. This means that 8.9 million women and children will go without assistance for infant formula, breastfeeding support and food if the shutdown goes into November.
Our Food Isn’t As Safe. Because of the government shutdown, the U.S. Food andamp; Drug Administration (FDA) will stop a majority of their food industry inspections. It’s estimated that every day the FDA does 80 food inspections. The good news: The agency will continue to inspect meat production facilities as a means to monitor food safety.
No New Drug Approvals. The FDA cannot review or approve any new drugs coming down the pipeline, including the five drugs they were supposed to review this month. Among those drugs were treatments for menopause, triglycerides, diabetes and kidney disease, writes 24/7 Wall Street.
Environmental Protection Won’t Be As Strong. Ninety-four percent of workers from the Environmental Protection Agency were sent home, which means that most long-term projects are suspended, unless it is an “imminent danger” to public safety. However, those who work on short-term public safety around hazards, food and drug pollution can continue working, the Huffington Post reported.
For more about the government shutdown and your health, go to BET.com.

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