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How would a federal government shutdown impact Emory?
photo of the capital

Emory’s Office of Government and Community Affairs (OGCA) closely monitors congressional action and has become increasingly concerned about an impending possible shutdown of the federal government at midnight tomorrow night (Sept. 30). 

The OGCA team continues to educate our congressional delegation about the negative impacts of a federal shutdown. While we have connected with potentially impacted programs across campus to prepare, the fact is there are many unknowns and much depends on the length of the shutdown.

Following are answers to five of the biggest questions.

1. Why does a federal government shutdown occur?

Each year, Congress must pass 12 appropriation bills that set levels of funding for various federal agencies and programs. Such funding generally covers the operations of agencies, including salaries and benefits for federal employees, grants to state and local governments, investments in federal research, and purchases from the private sector.

When Congress does not complete its work to fund the various agencies and programs by the beginning of the next fiscal year (Oct. 1), the result is a shutdown, or partial shutdown, of the federal government. 

2. How would Emory University be impacted by a shutdown? 

Initially, the impact would be minimal, but this could change if the shutdown continues over an extended period of time. For the most up to date information, please see the Office of Management and Budget’s Contingency Plans. Following are specific answers related to core areas of concern.

3. What would be the impact on federal financial aid?

Funding for most federal student aid should not be impacted. Because of the award cycle, most of the federal student aid programs are forward funded from last year’s budget and most of the funding is already in place for fall 2023. Federal Pell Grants and Loans should not be impacted in the short term.

However, we remain concerned for prospective students and members of our student body who will apply for federal financial aid for next year. Processing of aid applications and related systems — already delayed due to FAFSA simplification — could be further impacted if the shutdown becomes prolonged. For example, students who are required to provide an Internal Revenue Service (IRS) tax transcript could experience challenges doing so if IRS systems become compromised.

4. What would be the impact on federally funded research?

Faculty with sponsored awards will be able to continue to draw down on those awards and conduct research. Faculty should continue to submit proposals according to published deadlines.

An immediate impact for Emory is on communications with the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and other federal agencies about proposals, progress reports, awards and requests. While we expect submission portals to remain open, reviews of submitted applications will not occur or will be delayed, opportunities for new federal funding programs will not be issued, and new awards will not be made.

It is difficult to predict what will result from a longer-term shutdown, but a protracted shutdown will slow critical research and have a cumulative effect, with missed reviews, delay of new and continuation awards, limited interactions with program staff, and a backlog of reporting and regulatory issues. Lengthy delays may create funding gaps in ongoing research programs. 

5. How would funding for Emory Healthcare be impacted? 

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) will retain a limited number of staff to perform necessary measures in support of funded activities, such as Medicare, Medicaid and other mandatory health program payments. However, payments from non–mandatory funding sources could be delayed until there are adequate staff to process them. 

Although there will be no change in eligibility or access to care for Medicaid and Medicare patients in the short term, if this shutdown lasts for an unprecedented amount of time, there may be insufficient funding for Medicaid in the new year, according to CMS guidance.   

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