As entitlement programs, Medicare and Medicaid are expected to continue operating largely as usual even if the government shuts down. However, getting information about Medicare reimbursement during a government shutdown may be "very difficult," as the call center, which gets half a million calls each week, could be "limited," leading to “longer hold and wait times” according to an article by Politico.
At a briefing held yesterday, officials from the Office of Management and Budget and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) suggested that although mandatory spending in the Affordable Care Act would be unaffected, regulation writing would likely be "significantly hindered" because those staff salaries are funded by discretionary dollars. In addition, NIH will not start any new clinical trials during a shutdown.
Bruce Fried, who was an official with the agency that oversaw the programs during the shutdowns in 1995 and 1996, said he believed that the Medicare and Medicaid programs would "continue to function," with payments continuing to be made to providers, the article says.
Medicare Part A, which covers hospitals, is paid for by a trust fund and is unaffected by a shutdown. HHS has confirmed that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid "has the authority" to pay for Part D and B through the end of next month through the Supplemental Medical Insurance Trust Fund.
According to Politico, an HHS official also said that contractors who reimburse providers "will be able to process claims in a timely fashion" if the shutdown is brief.