Early last month, we learned that the federal rental assistance program had used just 10 percent of the $46 billion that Congress had allocated to it. This week brings an appropriate sequel:
Tens of billions of dollars designated by Congress to help hospitals, nursing homes and other health-care providers stave off financial hardship in the coronavirus pandemic are sitting unused because the Biden administration has not released the money.
As many hospitals bulge again with covid-19 patients, a wide swath of the health-care industry is exasperated that federal health officials have not made available any more of the aid since President Biden took office. About $44 billion from a Provider Relief Fund created last year remains unspent, along with $8.5 billion Congress allotted in March for medical care in rural areas.
Last month I wrote, “Congress loves to throw money at a problem and ignore questions of whether the Byzantine federal bureaucracy and patchwork of programs and systems can actually allocate the appropriated money fast enough to address the problem.”
Our federal government is asked to do a lot by the citizenry — more than it can reasonably handle. In the past month, we’ve learned that the State Department’s e-mail for evacuations from Afghanistan started bouncing back to senders because it was full. The U.S. government still does not have a certain count of how many U.S. citizens remain in Afghanistan, nor how many U.S. green card holders. The Special Inspector General for Afghan Reconstruction detailed hundreds of cases of waste, fraud, and abuse in the U.S. government’s expenditures in that country.
Keeping track of where the money goes is hard work. Putting together another giant spending bill is easy, and it allows members of Congress to boast that they did something – even if the money never gets to where it was intended to go.
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