HANTAVIRUS: CDC Admits Shifting Funds, Misleading Congress
CDC Director Jeffrey Koplan acknowledged yesterday that his agency had diverted some of the $7 million Congress had allocated for research on hantavirus to other purposes, including research on the Ebola virus and global monitoring for new viral outbreaks, the New York Times reports. Koplan said he did not know yet exactly how much of the money had been redirected, but he believed the shifting was legal. However, he acknowledged "that it was a mistake not to let Congress know about the shift" and pledged that similar funding reallocations would not occur again. Last fall, Koplan publicly apologized for diverting some of the $13 million intended for research on chronic fatigue syndrome. In a written statement, Koplan said that the "CDC has taken these lessons to heart and is working to set things straight. As CDC's director, I apologized to Congress in CDC's reporting of budget line items and outlined actions that CDC is putting in place to ensure appropriate disclosure regarding its use of funds." Senate Appropriations Committee Chair Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) said he would instruct the General Accounting Office to review the CDC's finances and would ask Koplan to accompany him to a Feb. 29 meeting with HHS Secretary Donna Shalala. Specter said, "It is very disconcerting, to say the least, if the CDC is not following the Congress's directions. And it is worse if, in fact, they have been lying about it." Sen. Pete Domenici (R-N.M.) "was somewhat more forgiving," saying, "I want to be careful not to prejudge them. I think they probably have a good explanation for this" (Hilts, 2/3).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.