Physicians and The Shutdown: How They’re Affected

federal shutdown, doctors and shutdown

credit: Flickr

Physicians in the US are bumping into problems as the US Government shutdown continues into its second week: from minor annoyances, to the inability to report HIPAA abuses.

Flu Team On Furlough

The CDC has had to “significantly reduce” it’s staff for the flu program, just as flu season begins.  The vaccine supply and patients ability to get a flu shot has not been affected by the furloughs, but the CDC has had to cease normal outbreak tracking and assistance operations.

It will be interesting to see how accurate their tracking systems are as the flu unfolds.

Who’s in Charge of HIPAA Compliance?

While the FDA continues to accept adverse event reporting for prescription drugs, new regulations for HIPAA compliance began on September 23rd, just a few days before the shut down.   We saw this tweet go by and it made us wonder …

hipaa compliance shutdown

Are any HIPAA violations being investigated right now? After a bit of investigation it appears no new complaints are being accepted.  The online “Complaint Portal” has a message saying it is currently closed.  In addition, the Health and Human Services department has furloughed a little more than half of its workforce so who knows how many current complaints are being addressed.

The ACA Impact

Our Sermo physicians are also reporting that people who have questions about what type of coverage their current doctors offer under the Affordable Care Act are being referred back to their primary care providers.  These calls are creating extra work for medical office staff as they try to assist their patients.  Additional phone calls and research often are needed to give each patient the best answer.

We will keep you posted as we hear problems from our physicians.  If you are a physician and you’d like to participate in a discussion about how the shutdown is affecting your practice please join us.

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