CDC PROBE: House Scrutinizes Diversion of Funds
The House Commerce Committee yesterday launched an investigation into how the CDC "diverted millions of dollars in federal funding," the Washington Post reports. Commerce Committee Chair Thomas Bliley (R-Va.), in a letter to CDC Director Jeffrey Koplan, wrote that his congressional panel had "grave questions about the management of funds" and about the "truthfulness" of previous CDC statements to Congress. Last year, the CDC told Congress it spent as much as $7.5 million a year fighting hantavirus, when much of the money actually had been funneled to researching other exotic diseases, such as Ebola and Lassa fevers. Moreover, an audit of the agency revealed that the CDC diverted or could not account for $12.9 million, earmarked for research into chronic fatigue syndrome. Appearing before a House appropriations subcommittee, HHS Secretary Donna Shalala said she was taking "unprecedented and aggressive action" to regain the trust of Congress. Shalala continued, "I have zero tolerance for inaccurate reporting and inaccurate statements," adding that she has ordered all senior decision-makers to undergo budget training. She said, "This is the equivalent of a stand down in the military." Nonetheless, subcommittee Chair John Porter (R-Ill.) said he has concerns about the CDC "culture." He said, "There is something going on within this institution that leads to a cavalier approach" when dealing with Congress. Porter added, "This raises questions as to what other inaccuracies there might be" (Strauss/Stephens, 2/9).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.