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Government Shutdown: How Does it Affect the Autism Community?

October 01, 2013

WASHINGTON, DC (October 1, 2013) -- Many federal goverment activities have started shutting down as Congress failed yesterday to agree to a continuing budget resolution to keep the government running beyond September 30. Federal agencies last night submitted their shutdown plans  to the Office of Management and Budget.

While the shutdown will not stop Medicaid and Social Security assistance for the nation's disabilities community, the processing of claims, new applications and other activites could be slowed significantly or stopped outright due to furloughs of staff. Special education funding under IDEA will be provided to public schools.

New autism research by the National Institutes of Health and prevalence monitoring by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention could be impacted due to furloughs. The NIH Office of Autism Research Coordination (OARC) is closed and the activities of the Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee (IACC) have been suspended.

Also, military families could see some reductions in services provided by civilian employees. About one-third of federal employees will be furloughed.

Social Security funding by federal law is mandatory and checks will continue to be issued in an "accurate and timely" manner using existing funding. But due to employee furloughs, the processing of payments and new applications could be delayed should the shutdown become extended.The State Disability Determination Services operation will continue reviewing initial claims, including quick disability determinations, but will stop continuing disability reviews and assistance requests for hearings. The Offices of Disability and Adjudicative Review will continue hearing and deciding existing cases, but will not docket or hear new cases or appeals.


Medicaid funding also is mandatory under federal law. The states will receive funding for Medicaid on October 1, due to an advance appropriation included in last year's federal budget, as well as for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). Fewer recertification and initial surveys for Medicaid providers will be completed, putting beneficiaries at risk of quality of care deficiencies.

NIH will take no further action on new grant applications or awards. An October 9 IACC meeting and October 29 IACC Strategic Plan Update Workshop are "subject to change" and could be canceled.

ACF will stop quarterly formula grants for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), Child Care, Social Services Block Grants, Child Welfare Services and Community Service Block Grants. New discretionary grants, including Head Start and social services programs, would not be made.

HUD will continue to make payments under Section 8 contracts where there is "a permanent or indefinite authority or multi-year funding." Renewals and funding of Section 8 contracts will continue where there is budget authority available from prior appropriations.

The agency expects to close by noon on October 1.  

The U.S. Department of Education will make advance appropriations of IDEA special education grants to the states by keeping on a limited number of employees. Otherwise, public schools should experience little immediate impact as they have already received a portion of their federal funding and are largely funded by state and local government.  If the shutdown continues beyond one week, 3,983 of the department's 4,225 employees will be furloughed.