published Tuesday, October 1st, 2013

Food for low-income women and children impacted by government shutdown

NASHVILLE - If Congress doesn’t end its budget impasse quickly, the impact on some areas of Tennessee government could be felt within a week to 10 days, according to Gov. Bill Haslam’s office.

The most immediate concern is the federal government’s Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infant and Children (WIC), which provides provides food and counseling to low-income women and their young children, according to a review ordered by Haslam, a Republican.

WIC “can only sustain a shutdown to approximately October 10th,” the review says. “A prolonged shutdown could affect personnel a much of the federal funding Health [Department] receives covers administrative costs.”

The state agency charged with ensuring workplace safety would have to be funded with state dollars if the shutdown lasts for more than a week to 10 days. In the event of a prolonged shutdown “staffing would need to be adjusted,” the review says.

A “significant” impact in coming weeks could effect administration of SNAP (food stamp) programs for low income families. That would come into play in the event of a shutdown lasting 2 1/2 months.

Issuance of state handgun carry permits and commercial driver licenses with hazmat endorsements due to required background checks could be impacted in coming days, according to the governor’s office.

Consumers needing help with the federally operated health insurance exchange could feel the effects as well. People unable to reach the federal call center staff could result in a “significant influx of calls to our insurance consumer assistance section,” the review says.

In a lengthy shutdown, Medicare payments to Tennessee managed care organizations that handle the program could be “disrupted,” the review says.

Reimbursements could be delayed for federally-funded programs in the state’s Economic and Community Development Department. In a lengthy shutdown, “grants to communities for infrastructure will be affected,” the review says.

The partial shutdown of the federal government began at 12:01 a.m. today as Republicans and Democrats failed to resolve a stalemate over House GOP members’ demands that provisions of President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act be delayed for a year.

about Andy Sher...

Andy Sher is a Nashville-based staff writer covering Tennessee state government and politics for the Times Free Press. A Washington correspondent from 1999-2005 for the Times Free Press, Andy previously headed up state Capitol coverage for The Chattanooga Times, worked as a state Capitol reporter for The Nashville Banner and was a contributor to The Tennessee Journal, among other publications. Andy worked for 17 years at The Chattanooga Times covering police, health care, county government, ...

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