Birth certificates, opioid response potentially impacted by looming government shutdown
The Alaska Department of Health and Social Services (DHSS) is working to determine the impact of a potential government shutdown if the legislature doesn’t pass a budget before July 1.
Commissioner Valerie Davidson said programs that will stay open are those that “affect life, health and safety,” and ones that are “constitutional mandates under the Alaska Constitution and federal requirements.”
Those facilities include the Pioneer Homes, Juvenile Justice Facility, and the Alaska Psychiatric Institute.
Davidson said there would be delays or closures of other programs that don’t meet the requirements.
The Bureau of Vital Statistics would close, which means there would be no staff to issue birth and death certificates and marriage licenses.
Davison said a government shutdown would also affect the department’s response to the on-going opioid crisis throughout the state.
“It’s also very basic things like distribution of the Naloxone kits to communities to make sure they have resources so they can ensure Alaskans who are overdosing can have their lives saved,” Davidson said. “Unfortunately, with a skeleton crew, we’re not going to be able to be as mobile and be able to continue those services in the way we’d like to be able to.”
DHSS also provides grants to small businesses and non-profit organizations. The money is distributed quarterly and Davidson said if a budget isn’t passed, those agencies won’t get paid.
“I think there’s this perception by the public that this is just impacting state employees and I think that perception is wrong,” Davidson said. “I think this impacts everyday Alaskans and there are people who rely on us to be able to keep their families safe and ensure their families have food on the table and access to health care and critical services.”
Davidson said she and the DHSS staff are hopeful the legislature can come to an agreement before the deadline.
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