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Federal Government Shutdown's Possible Impact on People with MS

October 1, 2013

As of midnight Monday, September 30, 2013, the federal government’s Fiscal Year (FY) 2013 ended and because no legislation to fund the federal government for FY 2014 has been passed into law, the federal government does not have authority to spend or obligate money. This led to all non-essential federal government operations being shut down until Congress passes a stopgap funding bill and/or comes to consensus on final funding levels for FY 2014. The National MS Society continues to urge Congress to take a balanced approach to resolving budgetary issues in order to get the government working again and ensure that Americans living with multiple sclerosis (MS) are not negatively impacted.

An example of a possible implication is that, while Social Security checks and disability benefits will continue to be issued, processing of benefits may be slowed because of Social Security employees being furloughed. Additionally, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) medical centers, clinics and other health services will remain open. The VA currently has enough funds to process claims and payments, but should the shutdown continue through late October, payments could be interrupted. The VA disability claim backlog may get longer because the VA will no longer be able to pay overtime to workers.

Another agency of utmost importance to the MS community is the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The NIH Clinical Center will continue care for current patients, but will not admit new patients unless deemed medically necessary. Funding supporting FY 2014 research grants will not be paid, slowing the momentum of vital medical research.

If you have specific questions, please contact the Society’s Information Resource Center at 1-800-344-4867.

About Multiple Sclerosis

Multiple sclerosis is an unpredictable, often disabling disease of the central nervous system that disrupts the flow of information within the brain, and between the brain and body. Symptoms range from numbness and tingling to blindness and paralysis. The progress, severity and specific symptoms of MS in any one person cannot yet be predicted, but advances in research and treatment are leading to better understanding and moving us closer to a world free of MS. Most people with MS are diagnosed between the ages of 20 and 50, with at least two to three times more women than men being diagnosed with the disease. MS affects more than 2.3 million people worldwide.


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