IHS pauses some care services amid government shutdown

The Indian Health Service, an HHS agency tasked with providing health services to American Indians and Alaska natives, has stopped several care services due to the government shutdown, Kaiser Health News reports.

Parts of the federal government shut down Dec. 22 after Congress and the White House did not reach a spending deal the previous night, according to CNN. Funding expired for about one-fourth of the federal government.

Since Congress has not approved funding for the Indian Health Service, which is run by HHS but receives money through the Department of the Interior, IHS is significantly affected by the shutdown. The only IHS services that can continue are those that meet "immediate needs of the patients, medical staff and medical facilities," the shutdown contingency plan said.

That includes IHS-run clinics, which provide healthcare to tribes nationwide. These facilities are open, and many staffers are going to work since they are deemed "excepted," an agency spokesperson said. However, they will not be paid until Congress and the White House reach a deal.

The agency also suspended grants supporting tribal health programs and preventive health clinics run by the Office of Urban Indian Health Programs.

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