June 25, 2020 / by Robert King
A federal watchdog found major lapses in the Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS’) response to the COVID-19 pandemic, specifically around testing and the distribution of critical supplies.
The congressionally mandated report, released Thursday, also recommended that Congress boost Medicaid payments to states to help them better handle an influx of beneficiaries.
The watchdog found that the need for critical supplies such as personal protective equipment (PPE) and ventilators quickly outpaced the stores in the Strategic National Stockpile. The distribution of supplies at the onset of the pandemic was based on guidance provided by HHS and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
However, local officials have reported major lapses in coordination and challenges in getting supplies. For example, the National Governors Association blasted the federal response in April for a lack of coordination.
A survey of 213 mayors back in March also found that “most cities did not have and could not obtain adequate equipment and supplies such as test kits, face masks and ventilators,” the Government Accountability Office (GAO) said.