- Congress voted on Monday afternoon to end the federal government shutdown, which had been triggered Friday night after lawmakers failed to pass a short-term spending bill, with scores of federal workers unable to report to work. A new bill funds the government until Feb. 8.
- Under the fiscal year 2018 contingency staffing plan, about 50% of HHS staff were furloughed Monday, although the proportion varied among agencies and offices.
- Under the contingency plan, the CDC was to continue tracking influenza during a particularly severe season and “collect data being reported by states, hospitals, and others, and report out critical information needed for state and local health authorities and providers to track, prevent and treat the disease.”
The compromise measure keeps the government open for about three weeks, putting off a dispute over immigration policy. The agreement reauthorizes the Children’s Health Insurance Program for six years and delays certain Affordable Care Act taxes on health insurance, medical devices and high-cost employer-sponsored health plans.
President Trump signed the legislation Monday evening.
A contingency plan that went into effect during the three-day shutdown provided for CMS to keep operating certain ACA exchange activities, while not affecting Medicare in the short term. Other non-discretionary programs such as Center for Medicare & Medicaid Innovation activities also had continued and states were able fund their Medicaid programs through the second quarter.
When the contingency plan is in place, the FDA was able to continue user fee-funded programs and certain consumer protection activities such as high-risk recalls.
Commissioner Scott Gottlieb noted the agency was keeping up its work on addressing the IV solution shortage during the shutdown. Gottlieb, who was set to travel to the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, before the Monday vote announced on Twitter he would remain in the U.S. at the FDA headquarters.
However, HHS said that under the contingency plan FDA would be unable to “support the majority of its food safety, nutrition and cosmetics activities” and would stop routine establishment inspections and certain compliance and enforcement activities. In addition, the “majority of the laboratory research necessary to inform public health decision-making” would stop.
Also under the plan, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration would be “unable to fund new or monitor existing grants or contracts, including activities requiring on-site supervision.”
The National Institutes of Health was continuing to provide care for NIH Clinical Center patients. In addition, the Health Resources and Services Administration continued to operate community health centers, National Health Service Corps, Maternal Infant and the Child Health Home visiting program.
During the shutdown, the CDC would have been able to provide just "minimal support" to protect the health and well-being of U.S. citizens with "a significantly reduced capacity to respond to outbreak investigations, processing of laboratory samples, and maintaining the agency’s 24/7 emergency operations."