About that government shutdown...

For so long October 1, 2013 has been the date many of us were looking forward to because of open enrollment for health insurance.  And while that is still happening, October 1 has also become the day many have feared: the first government shutdown in nearly 18 years. For more information on how we got to this point, here is a rundown of articles from top US news outlets. 131001_wuerker_605

Unless you happened to have had your annual family vacation to visit the national monuments and free museums of Washington, DC you may not immediately feel the impact of the shutdown.  However, there are some implications for health care services and research that you may need to be aware of.  Below are some highlights and resources for information.

This guidance document released by the Department of Health & Human Services indicates that over at the NIH, current patients will continue to receive care, but no new patients will be admitted (with exceptions).  Furthermore, no new protocols will be initiated and there will be no action on grants or awards.  FDA activities that will be put on hold include safety inspections and laboratory research.  At this time, information about specific activities related to advisory committees and planning for future meetings is unclear, though it is reasonable to believe that most will be put on hold.

With research already stymied because of sequester, these developments are especially concerning to us in the childhood cancer community who know that the failure to keep up with research and/or access treatment can be detrimental to keeping pace with previous advancements in research and treatment.

Regardless of your political party affiliation, it is clear that the shutdown is harmful to our best health care interests.  I certainly hope that Congress and the Administration are able to work out a deal soon to keep the government funded so that we may be spared any further harmful cuts to programs of vital importance.

Are you a researcher in the field of pediatric oncology who is being impacted by the government shutdown? We want to hear from you about your personal experiences.

*Despite the shutdown, health care exchanges do still open today, and you may begin your research and enrollment for 2014 health insurance plans.