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Department of Health & Human Services OIG

Telehealth Was Critical for Providing Services to Medicare Beneficiaries During the First Year of the COVID-19 Pandemic

Telehealth was critical for providing services to Medicare beneficiaries during the first year of the pandemic. Beneficiaries' use of telehealth during the pandemic also demonstrates the long-term potential of telehealth to increase access to health care for beneficiaries. Further, it shows that beneficiaries particularly benefited from the ability to use telehealth for certain services, such as behavioral health services. These findings are important for CMS, Congress, and other stakeholders to take into account as they consider making changes to telehealth in Medicare. For example, CMS could...

Department of Health & Human Services OIG

The Assistant Secretary for Administration Awarded and Managed Five Sole Source Contracts for COVID-19 Testing in Accordance With Federal and Contract Requirements

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is one of the largest contracting agencies in the Federal Government. In fiscal year 2020, HHS awarded over $14 billion in contracts in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Of these contracts, HHS's Assistant Secretary for Administration (ASA) awarded five sole source COVID-19 testing contracts to national pharmacy and grocery retail chains to provide Americans convenient access to COVID-19 testing at testing site locations throughout the United States. The contracts provided a flat-fee payment to participating retailers for each test...

Department of Health & Human Services OIG

Changes Made to States' Medicaid Programs To Ensure Beneficiary Access to Prescriptions During the COVID-19 Pandemic

On March 13, 2020, the President of the United States declared that the COVID-19 pandemic was a national emergency. That same day, in accordance with section 1135(b) of the Social Security Act (the Act), the Secretary of HHS invoked his authority to waive or modify certain requirements of Titles XVIII, XIX, and XXI of the Act. To limit the spread of the virus, Federal, State and local governments urged individuals to stay at home and for individuals who test positive to quarantine, among other preventive measures. As a result, the usual and customary ways that many individuals obtained...

Department of Health & Human Services OIG

Six of Eight Home Health Agency Providers Had Infection Control Policies and Procedures That Complied With CMS Requirements and Followed CMS COVID-19 Guidance To Safeguard Medicare Beneficiaries, Caregivers, and Staff During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Department of Health & Human Services OIG

Indian Health Service Use of Critical Care Response Teams Has Helped To Meet Facility Needs During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Department of Health & Human Services OIG

Medicare Beneficiaries Hospitalized With COVID-19 Experienced a Wide Range of Serious, Complex Conditions

Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) has affected millions of Americans, resulting in more than 600,000 deaths. Medicare beneficiaries have been particularly affected and remain vulnerable to new variants and additional surges of the virus. Clinicians and researchers are still working to fully understand the damage to the body from the disease and what underlying chronic conditions potentially lead to more severe complications or hospitalization. Understanding the types of conditions for which Medicare beneficiaries with COVID-19 are being treated and who was more likely to be hospitalized with...

Department of Health & Human Services OIG

CMS's COVID-19 Data Included Required Information From the Vast Majority of Nursing Homes, but CMS Could Take Actions To Improve Completeness and Accuracy of the Data

The United States currently faces a nationwide public health emergency because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Federal regulations, effective May 8, 2020, required nursing homes to report COVID-19 information, such as the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases among residents, at least weekly to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC’s) National Healthcare Safety Network. Each week, CDC aggregates the reported information and sends the data to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) for posting to the CMS website. These data are used to assist with national surveillance of...

Department of Health & Human Services OIG

CMS’s Controls Related to Hospital Preparedness for an Emerging Infectious Disease Were Well-Designed and Implemented but Its Authority Is Not Sufficient for It To Ensure Preparedness at Accredited Hospitals

Hospitals that cannot control the spread of emerging infectious diseases within their facilities risk spreading a disease such as COVID-19 to patients and staff. OIG therefore developed a plan to assess the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ (CMS’s) controls related to hospital preparedness for emerging infectious diseases.The objective of this audit was to determine whether CMS designed and implemented effective internal controls related to hospital preparedness for emerging infectious diseases such as COVID-19.