Big Bend Park Shutdown
(Credit: Gary Kemp Photography / Getty Images)

A government shutdown would suspend a wide range of government programs, furlough federal workers and freeze momentum on several legislative priorities supported by the senior living industry.

The good news, experts said, is that major entitlement programs — such as Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security — don’t rely on the appropriations process and will continue without disruption, although new benefit verification and applications for benefits may be delayed. 

But other senior services programs may be affected.

The US Department of Housing and Urban Development’s contingency plan states that 339 of HUD’s 8,528 staff members would continue working full time as “excepted” employees, performing activities deemed essential to operations. 

LeadingAge has developed a resource to guide HUD-assisted multifamily housing providers on preparations for a potential lapse in HUD funding and operations. 

Public health monitoring activities under the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration, including for the flu and other infectious diseases — may be limited. Also, the Small Business Administration would not process loan and loan guarantee applications.

Argentum Director of Government Relations Dan Samson noted that a shutdown also would freeze momentum on several bills, including legislative priorities for the senior living industry, and halt the progress of the 21st Century Long Term Care Caucus.

Among the issues Argentum has been trying to pass this year include the Expanding Veterans’ Options for Long Term Care Act (HR 1815 / S 495), the Safeguarding Elderly Needs for Infrastructure and Occupational Resources (SENIOR) Act and the Freedom to Invest in Tomorrow’s Workforce Act (S 722 / HR 1477), which would permit the use of state-sponsored 529 education account funds to cover workforce training program costs.

Dramatic cuts to workforce training program programs, including a proposed elimination of Job Corps, and cutting essential workforce grants and apprenticeship programs, would once again be on the table if a government shutdown occurs, an Argentum spokesperson told McKnight’s Senior Living.

“A shutdown means all legislative attention is focused on budget negotiations, and nothing else is considered,” Samson said. “The longer the shutdown, the less time in the year to refocus on other issues.”

The Argentum spokesperson said there are no “winners” in government shutdowns and that the association has encouraged negotiators in Congress to reach a compromise and continue to work on legislation “critical” to older Americans.

“We encourage Congress to come to a swift resolution to bring forth stability and a fully operational federal government,” Clif Porter, senior vice president of government relations at the American Health Care Association / National Center for Assisted Living, told McKnight’s Senior Living.