Those looking for the most immediate affect of the federal government shutdown on Harrison County can listen to the voice mail from the Department of Soil and Water Conservation announcing its indefinite closure.
The partial government shutdown, which went into effect on Tuesday, Oct. 1, has put an estimated 800,000 federal employees temporarily out of work, including the employees of the soil and conservation office.
While most employees have been assured that they will receive back pay during this forced hiatus, it doesn’t account for how they will make ends meet in the short term.
Most of the federal employees around Harrison County, though, are with the US Postal Service.
“For us, it is still business as usual,” Michelle Morgan, postmaster of the Berry Post Office, said.
The same can also be said for Harrison County government officials and those from the city as well.
Harrison Memorial Hospital CEO Sheila Currans said that the medical center is bracing for a slow down in Medicare reimbursements if the shutdown expands or lasts a long time.
However, Currans added, it has prevented the hospital from collecting on a portion of Medicare payments that were withheld from HMH because of a new program designed to encourage quality improvements at hospitals.
According to Currans, HMH exceeded the quality and patient satisfaction measures for this program upon which one percent of their Medicare reimbursement from the last fiscal year was held back.
“We exceeded those goals and that money is due us. But we haven’t received it yet. And when we call to find out when we’ll get the money we earned, we get a voice mail message saying that they can’t help us because of the shutdown. That is very frustrating,” Currans said.
Austin Dacci, Food Service director for Harrison County Schools, said that the school won’t be reimbursed by the United States Department of Agriculture for school breakfasts or lunches because of the shutdown.
“We will recoup that money retroactively when a budget gets passed,” Dacci said.
Despite all these inconveniences, most parties said that the length of the shutdown could gradually create larger and expanding areas of concern.
Even though social security checks will continue to go out, the reduction of non-essential federal employees means fewer people available to process and mail those checks. There could, therefore, be delays in their regular delivery.
Those planning on international travel are currently unable to apply for a passport. Those interested in domestic travel will have to look for places other than national parks. Mammoth Cave National Park and the National Wildlife Reserves at the Land Between the Lakes in western Kentucky are closed.
Federal loan applications for rural communities, small businesses and mortgages are frozen for the time being.
Medicare and Veterans benefits will also continue, but employee shortages may delay how quickly they arrive in the mail.
Fortunately once they are mailed, the US Post Office will be able to deliver them.