Because Senate Democrats refused to agree to a rescinding of the medical device tax and a one-year delay in the implementation of the individual mandate of the Affordable Care Act (ACA, otherwise known as "Obamacare"), Congress did not pass a continuing resolution funding the federal government for the next three months. However, the so-called "shutdown" of the federal government is anything but. Among the many federal government employees still going to work during the "shutdown" (and still drawing taxpayer-funded paychecks) are 37,686 employees of the Department of Health and Human Services -- roughly 48 percent of the HHS workforce.
Indeed, such vital services as the CDC's Global AIDS program and childhood obesity-related activities in Libby, Montana, will continue unaffected by the lack of a continuing resolution to renew appropriations (directing taxpayer dollars to government activities). As in other executive departments, many activities of HHS are not taxpayer-funded; one example of the FDA's Center for Tobacco Products, which is funded by user fees, and which will continue its work uninterrupted. Additionally, Medicare, Medicaid, and the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) will still have access to funds.
Unfortunately, unlike the children receiving obesity-related services in Libby, Montana, children injured by vaccines and compensated through the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program will not receive payments during the shutdown. Current NIH patients will receive care, but new patients will not be enrolled. The CDC's Vaccines for Children (VfC) program receives mandatory funding and will continue unabated, but counting of influenza cases will pause.
Among other health-related federal government activities, the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) has 289,279 of 332,025 employees (87 percent) funded by advance appropriations, which means that they will not be furloughed. Including employees deemed to be "required to perform excepted functions during a shutdown event," 95 percent of VHA employees will remain on the job. Of one-third of one million employees at the VHA, only 14,224 will be taking a mandatory, unpaid vacation during the shutdown. The numbers are similar across the entire Veterans Administration (VA); in fact, some groups, such as the Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization, have zero employees subject to furlough. However, the VA's Twitter account will be updated only intermittently, and Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests will not be processed. The Women Veterans Call Center (1-855-VA-WOMEN) will remain open, but the call centers for Agent Orange and Gulf War Syndrome (1-800-749-8387) will not. A simplified list of VA services, both affected and not affected by the shutdown, as well as contact phone numbers, is available here, as well as from VA field offices in each state.