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Investigating Government Assistance Programs

Erik Sofranko

Posted on July 7, 2020 23:16

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Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, government assistance programs have become increasingly important. It has also become increasingly important to hold everyone accountable.

The Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) block grant can provide a wide variety of benefits and is important for providing assistance for families in need. The program operates in all states, and at the federal level, it is administered by the Department of Health and Human Services. Some of the goals of the program include promoting the maintenance of two-parent families and the eventually end dependence on government through job preparation. An investigative journalist’s role should be to ensure that the people who need the help from the program are getting what they are entitled to under the law.

Because of the 1996 welfare reform, states have a lot more flexibility on how to use assistance funding. Over time, some states have redirected some of their TANF funds for purposes other than what it should be used for in the first place. Filling state budget holes has sometimes taken priority over those in need. This may be an instance where the federal government has inadvertently hurt people who are in need.

According to The Washington Post, many Americans are dying of the coronavirus who are not being counted as part of the official death toll. This is because the CDC only counts deaths where there was a confirmed lab test of the virus present. In the U.S., there was a lack of access to testing in the first few weeks of the outbreak, and people who die at nursing homes or in their own homes are still not being tested, per funeral directors and medical examiners. The article notes that the CDC death toll from COVID-19 is significantly lower than the count that is more frequently updates by researchers and media organizations.

Another article investigates the effectiveness of measures that have been put in place to help slow the spread of the virus. A study found that banning public gatherings and closing entertainment venues has been effective at containing the virus. After the virus originated in Wuhan, 262 cities in China reported cases of the coronavirus with 28 days. This is a much faster spread compared to the 2009 H1N1 outbreak, which took 132 days to reach the same number of Chinese cities.

Another investigation looks into what the aftermath of COVID-19 may look like in terms of the use of the trillions of dollars provided by the U.S. federal government to stimulate the economy. The False Claims Act (FCA) can be used by government enforcement authorities to make claims against recipients of funds that follow national disasters. Some of the main focuses of the FCA are health care abuse and fraud. In 2019, the Department of Justice recovered about $3 billion from settlements and judgements related to the FCA, and about $2.6 billion of that total was health care related. Attorney General Barr has warned that the public should report fraud schemes related to COVID-19 funding to the National Center for Disaster Fund.

Erik Sofranko

Posted on July 7, 2020 23:16

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Source: WLWT
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