HHS watchdog lays out plan to review coronavirus response

Washington

WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — The top watchdog at the Department of Health and Human Services testified virtually before the House Oversight Committee Tuesday after her report about the country’s coronavirus response came under fire from the White House last month.

The findings from ousted Acting Inspector General Christi Grimm’s office exposed protective equipment, ventilator and testing shortages inside hundreds of the nation’s hospitals.

“The department has taken numerous actions to address the issues that we highlighted in our report,” Grimm told lawmakers.

Grimm called the April report “just the beginning” of the oversight work her office is doing in response to the coronavirus crisis.

Rep. Carolyn Maloney, D-NY, stressed the issues still are not resolved.

“Front-line healthcare workers told us that they still do not have enough testing or equipment to protect themselves or their patients,” Maloney said, referring to a House committee hearing last week. 

But Rep. Fred Keller, R-PA, said Grimm’s office should focus on what states actually need over what they request.

“Gov. Cuomo asked for a lot of things, but it turns out he didn’t need them,” Keller said.

Grimm said her office does plan to look into states’ use of supplies as well.

However, President Trump called Grimm’s initial report “wrong” and has moved to replace her.

Grimm said that has not stopped her from fulfilling her role as inspector general.

“I, personally and professionally, cannot let the idea of providing unpopular information drive decision making in the work that we do,” she said. “We are plowing ahead.”

Grimm told lawmakers her office currently has two active reviews: the FDA’s role in facilitating testing and the CDC’s process of approving, producing and distributing test kits.

Stay with News 2 for continuing coverage of the COVID-19 Pandemic.

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