Congress is facing a deadline to prevent a government shutdown that could have a detrimental effect on the U.S. economy and the lives of millions of Americans. The Senate has proposed a temporary measure to fund offices until November 17, but it has encountered opposition from some House Republicans who object to the inclusion of funding for Ukraine. President Biden has warned Republican conservatives about the importance of funding the federal government. A shutdown would have significant consequences, including unpaid work for military personnel and air traffic controllers, as well as potential loss of access to nutritional benefits for millions of people in the Women, Infants, and Children program.
While a government shutdown would have far-reaching effects, there is some good news for Medicare recipients. Mandatory spending programs like Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security would largely remain unaffected as Congress has already approved spending for these programs indefinitely. Medicare services would continue as normal, according to experts, although there may be delays in payments for Medicare providers if a shutdown persists. Enrolling in Medicare should not be impacted during a shutdown, as applications will still be accepted online and the Medicare hotline will continue to operate. Medicare open enrollment, scheduled for October 15, is not expected to be disrupted as the programs that assist beneficiaries with plan reviews and changes are managed by states.
However, there are certain aspects of Medicare that could be affected by a shutdown. For instance, if a Medicare recipient loses their Medicare card during a shutdown, the Social Security Administration would not issue a replacement until the end of the shutdown. Overall, while a government shutdown would create significant challenges and uncertainty, Medicare services and enrollment are expected to continue without major disruptions.