Audit of HHS Sole Source Contracts Awarded for COVID-19 Testing
HHS established contracts under the Public Health and Social Services Emergency Fund to prevent, prepare for, and respond to the COVID-Â19 pandemic. The contracts cover more than 600 COVID-19 testing sites in 48 states and the District of Columbia. The contracts utilize a Federal bundled payment program paid directly to retailers that receive a flat fee for each test administered, with participating retailers responsible for coordinating the full, end-to-end testing. The contracts that HHS awarded to contractors were sole source contracts totaling approximately $1 billion for COVID-19 testing. We will review the awarding and management of contracts for COVID-19 testing to determine compliance with applicable Federal statutes, regulations, HHS policies and procedures, contract terms and conditions, and the allowability of claimed costs.
Multi-Dipping of Pandemic Response Funds Provided to Tribal Governments
The PRAC and pandemic OIGs identified the possibility of recipients receiving funding from multiple federal programs for the same purpose (multi-dipping) as a high risk area. This project will focus on funds received by tribal governments, and result in an information brief that identifies programs where multi-dipping has occurred in CARES Act programs allowing us to identify and scope the magnitude of the risk.
Inspection Notification: Small Business Administration's Implementation of the Economic Aid Act
The Office of Inspector General Audits Division will perform a review of the Small Business Administration’s implementation of the Economic Aid Act. The objective is to determine whether the Small Business Administration implemented the Paycheck Protection Program in accordance with the Economic Aid Act.
DHS Prioritization of Frontline and Mission-Critical Employees for COVID-19 Vaccines
- Evaluate how DHS determined employee status for placement into vaccine distribution priority groups and how, in conjunction with the Veterans Health Administration, DHS planned to triage and distribute available vaccine inventory and vaccinate frontline, mission-critical DHS staff
- Evaluate how DHS executed its plan.
Health Resources and Services Administration's Monitoring of High-Risk COVID-19 Grantees
The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) is the primary Federal agency for improving health care to people who are geographically isolated and economically or medically vulnerable. HRSA should identify and mitigate risks related to awarding grants to health centers to minimize the potential misuse or loss of Federal funds. In spring 2020, HRSA awarded through three programs nearly $2 billion to approximately 1,380 health centers in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. To expedite distribution of this funding, HRSA did not require that health centers apply for grants. Instead, it made funds immediately available to health centers. Health centers had 30 days from the award release date to submit the information that is usually submitted, reviewed, and approved during the grant application process prior to a grantee receiving funding. We will determine whether HRSA had an effective process for identifying and monitoring high-risk health centers that received COVID-19 grants.
Home Health Agencies' Challenges and Strategies in Responding to the COVID-19 Pandemic
Home health agencies (HHAs) have faced unprecedented challenges to providing care during the COVID-19 pandemic. Reported challenges include, but are not limited to, procuring necessary equipment and supplies, implementing telehealth to treat patients remotely, and addressing staffing shortages. However, the full spectrum of these challenges, including how challenges have evolved over time, is unknown. HHAs have used strategies to address these challenges, but the array of strategies and the extent to which HHAs found them helpful are also unknown. This nationwide study will provide insights into the strategies HHAs have used to address the challenges presented by COVID-19, including how well their emergency preparedness plans served them during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Audits of Medicare Part B Telehealth Services During the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency
Telehealth is playing an important role during the public health emergency (PHE), and CMS is exploring how telehealth services can be expanded beyond the PHE to provide care for Medicare beneficiaries. Because of telehealth's changing role, we will conduct a series of audits of Medicare Part B telehealth services in two phases. Phase one audits will focus on making an early assessment of whether services such as evaluation and management, opioid use order, end-stage renal disease, and psychotherapy (Work Plan number W-00-21-35801) meet Medicare requirements. Phase two audits will include additional audits of Medicare Part B telehealth services related to distant and originating site locations, virtual check-in services, electronic visits, remote patient monitoring, use of telehealth technology, and annual wellness visits to determine whether Medicare requirements are met.
Audit of Home Health Services Provided as Telehealth During the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency
President Trump declared a national emergency in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, which allowed the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to take proactive steps to support the response to COVID-19 through the use of section 1135 waivers. By means of this authority, CMS waived certain requirements in order to expand Medicare telehealth benefits to health care professionals who were previously ineligible, including physical therapists, occupational therapists, speech language pathologists, and others. CMS also amended regulations to allow home health agencies to use telecommunications systems in conjunction with in-person visits. We will evaluate home health services provided by agencies during the COVID-19 public health emergency to determine which types of skilled services were furnished via telehealth, and whether those services were administered and billed in accordance with Medicare requirements. We will report as overpayments any services that were improperly billed.
Audit of Delinquent Noncustodial Parents' Tax Refund and Economic Impact Payment Intercepts
The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act provides qualifying individuals with a recovery rebate (economic impact payment) of up to $1,200 (or $2,400 if married and filing jointly), plus up to $500 for each qualifying child. Congress added a number of exemptions concerning the economic impact payments within the CARES Act; however, it did not exempt child support debt. According to estimates, up to 10.5 million noncustodial parents are delinquent in their payment of child support and could have their economic impact payments intercepted. Based on the significant impact that the CARES Act will have on the collection of delinquent child support due to the intercept of economic impact payments, we determined that the focus of our audit would be to determine whether selected State(s) have policies and procedures in place to ensure that State child support programs collected and distributed delinquent child support under the Federal Tax Refund Offset program.
Emergency Economic Injury Disaster Loan Grants Made to Sole Proprietorships
The Office of Inspector General Audits Division will perform a review of emergency economic injury disaster loan grants made to sole proprietorships. The objective is to determine whether the Small Business Administration approved and disbursed emergency economic injury disaster loan grants in accordance with the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act and Paycheck Protection Program and Healthcare Act.