The Department of Health and Human Services should provide projected time frames for its planned spending of COVID-19 relief funds, including the Provider Relief Fund, to ensure accountability for these funds, the Government Accountability Office said in a report released today. 
 
“As of May 31, 2021, about 25% of PRF appropriations remained unobligated ($43.7 billion of $178 billion), and [the Health Resources and Services Administration] has not provided time frames for obligating this balance,” the report notes. “Of the unobligated funds, according to HHS’s October 2020 spend plan, HRSA reserved a portion of the provider relief funds to respond to needs not identified in the spend plan, and in May 2021 HHS officials told us that the reserved funds were approximately $24 billion. HHS has not specified time frames for obligating these reserved funds or for the other $29.1 billion in unobligated provider relief funds. In addition, [the American Rescue Plan Act] appropriated an additional $8.5 billion for rural providers, and as of May 31, 2021, all these funds remained unobligated.” 
 
The report also recommends other federal actions to improve the nation’s ongoing response to the COVID-19 pandemic and prepare for future public health emergencies, including developing plans to enhance laboratory surge testing capacity and restructure the emergency medical countermeasures enterprise and updating policies and procedures for the Strategic National Stockpile. 
 
AHA Friday told Senate leaders it strongly opposes proposals to rescind emergency funds from the Provider Relief Fund to offset the costs of an infrastructure proposal. Noting that COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations continue to surge in hotspots across the country, AHA urged the Senate leaders to encourage the administration to immediately release the funds for their intended purpose.
 

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