HealthDay News — Veterans and Medicare and Medicaid recipients will continue to receive health care benefits despite the federal government shut down, according to U.S. officials.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services expects to furlough 52% of its staff, sending home approximately 40,500 employees. If no Congressional compromise is reached, a number of programs important to public health will be disrupted, including inspections of food and drug manufacturers, infectious disease surveillance, and monitoring of imported foods and drugs.

However, the furloughs won’t affect people receiving health care through Medicare or Medicaid. The shutdown also won’t affect any medical programs provided by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, nor will it stop enrollment in health insurance exchanges that are a foundation of the Affordable Care Act.

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“In the short term, the Medicare Program will continue largely without disruption during a lapse in appropriations,” according to the contingency plan, which also notes that money has already been set aside to continue funding to states for Medicaid services and the Children’s Health Insurance Program.

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