September 29, 2022

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Priority Open Recommendations: Department of Health and Human Services

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What GAO Found

In May 2021, GAO identified 61 priority recommendations for the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Since then, HHS has implemented nine of those recommendations by, among other things, taking steps to conduct additional studies measuring the long-term health outcomes of persons with COVID-19 and to protect infants exposed to opioids in utero. In addition to the nine priority recommendations HHS implemented, one is no longer included in this letter because the effective time for its implementation has passed.

In May 2022, GAO identified five additional priority recommendations for HHS, bringing the total number of priority recommendations to 56. These recommendations involve the following areas:

  • COVID-19 response and other public health emergency preparedness;
  • Public health and human services program oversight;
  • Food and Drug Administration oversight;
  • Improper payments in Medicaid and Medicare;
  • Medicaid program;
  • Medicare program;
  • Health information technology and cybersecurity; and
  • Health insurance premium tax credit payment integrity.

Implementing our priority recommendations could help improve the efficiency and effectiveness of key federal health care programs and funding, including those relevant to the nation’s ongoing response to COVID-19.

Why GAO Did This Study

Priority open recommendations are the GAO recommendations that warrant priority attention from heads of key departments or agencies because their implementation could save large amounts of money; improve congressional or executive branch decision-making on major issues; eliminate mismanagement, fraud, and abuse; or ensure that programs comply with laws and funds are legally spent, among other benefits. Since 2015, GAO has sent letters to selected agencies to highlight the importance of implementing such recommendations.

For more information, contact Jessica Farb at (202) 512-7114 or

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