GAO reports to Congress on COVID-19 response: 4 things to know

The Government Accountability Office, a federal watchdog, outlined several challenges the government faced in its COVID-19 response and recommended legislative actions to address some of the shortcomings in a June 25 report to Congress.

Four things to know:

1. In its report, the GAO found the CDC's data reporting for viral testing was incomplete and inconsistent. The GAO said this made "it more difficult to track and know the number of infections, mitigate their effects, and inform decisions on reopening communities." HHS issued a guidance June 4 that better identified what data needs to be reported to the CDC.

2. When it came to distributing supplies to respond to COVID-19, demand quickly exceeded what was in the national stockpile, GAO said. HHS has worked with the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Department of Defense to increase supplies, but federal, state and local officials are still raising red flags about how supplies are distributed. 

3. As of May 31, the government has spent $17 billion on contracts during the COVID-19 pandemic, including contracts for ventilator production and vaccine development. 

4. The GAO recommended that Congress update the formula used to determine how much federal funding states get for their Medicaid programs. As with previous economic downturns, the GAO expects Medicaid enrollment to increase and weaken state economies. 

Read the full report here

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