Congress has until Saturday to prevent a government shutdown that could have major repercussions for the U.S. economy and the lives of millions of Americans. The Senate has proposed a stopgap measure to keep offices funded until November 17, but controversy surrounding supplemental funding for Ukraine has led to opposition from Republicans in the House. President Biden has warned conservatives about their hard-line tactics, emphasizing that funding the government is a fundamental responsibility of Congress. A shutdown could result in hardship for various groups, including military personnel, air traffic controllers, and the 7 million people in the Women, Infants, and Children program who could lose access to nutritional benefits.
While a government shutdown would create significant disruptions, it would not affect certain major programs like Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security, as these fall under “mandatory spending” and have already been approved by Congress. However, Medicare providers may experience a delay in payments if the shutdown persists. Despite the potential implications of a shutdown, Medicare recipients can still access healthcare services, see their doctors, visit hospitals, and fill prescriptions. Additionally, individuals can still enroll in Medicare through applications on the official website or by contacting the Medicare hotline. The upcoming Medicare open enrollment period, set to begin on October 15, is expected to proceed without disruption as it is primarily managed by state programs. One unfortunate consequence of a shutdown is that individuals who lose their Medicare cards during this time will not be able to obtain replacements until after the shutdown concludes.