ASCO Update: Government Shutdown Impact on Cancer Care

October 1, 2013

Congress was unable to reach a budget compromise to keep the government funded before the new fiscal year started on October 1, 2013, resulting in all nonessential government services being suspended.

ASCO is closely monitoring the situation and its impact on ASCO members. Based on guidance released by the Department of Health & Human Services (HHS), below is information related to the federal agencies that reimburse cancer care, fund cancer research, and shepherd drug development.

The Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS)

In the short term, Medicare claims will be processed and paid on time. If the shutdown continues for several weeks, however, payments to providers could be delayed. ASCO is monitoring this closely in order to provide the most reliable information and guidance to oncology practices. States will have funding for Medicaid on October 1, due to the advanced appropriation enacted in the FY 2013 appropriations legislation, as well as for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP).

In the short term, HHS reports that the Medicare Program will continue largely without disruption. CMS will continue large portions of Affordable Care Act related activities, including coordination between Medicaid and the Marketplace.

For news updates directly from the CMS, you can also visit their Newsroom:

National Institutes of Health (NIH)

The NIH will not take any action on grants applications or awards during the period of government shut down. Patient care for current NIH Clinical Center patients will continue as well as minimal support for ongoing protocols, animal care services to protect the health of NIH animals, and minimal staff to safeguard NIH facilities and infrastructure. However, the NIH will not admit new patients (unless deemed medically necessary by the NIH Director), initiate new protocols, and will discontinue some veterinary services. The NCI Cancer Information Service, NCI’s toll-free 24 hour cancer information hotline, will no longer operate.

For news and updates directly from the NIH, you can also visit their website:

Food & Drug Administration (FDA)

The FDA will be able to continue limited activities related to its user fee funded programs, including the activities in the Center for Tobacco Products. FDA will also continue select vital activities including maintaining critical consumer protection to handle emergencies, high-risk recalls, civil and criminal investigations, import entry review, and other critical public health issues. However, the FDA will be unable to support the majority of its food safety, nutrition, and cosmetics activities. FDA will also have to cease safety activities such as routine establishment inspections, some compliance and enforcement activities, monitoring of imports, notification programs (e.g., food contact substances, infant formula), and the majority of the laboratory research necessary to inform public health decision-making.

For news and updates directly from the FDA, you can also visit their Newsroom:

The situation remains fluid. ASCO will keep you abreast of any new information coming from agencies about the shutdown’s impact on cancer care and oncology practice. For the latest developments on the government shutdown, please visit