House Republicans call for investigation into New York’s ‘deadly’ nursing home order
Andrew Kerr on June 26, 2020
The Republican members of the New York, California, Michigan, New Jersey and Pennsylvania delegations called on the attorneys general of their states to investigate the origins of their governors’ “deadly” nursing home orders that they say led to unnecessary coronavirus deaths among elderly populations.
“These governors are withholding information from the public and House Democrats are letting them get away with it with their partisan refusal to join our investigation,” Republican Whip and Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis ranking chairman Steve Scalise said in a statement. “As a result, we are now calling on the attorneys general of these states to investigate the orders behind these avoidable tragedies.”
Nursing home residents and staff have accounted for at least 40% of coronavirus deaths across the country, according to The Wall Street Journal. Some of the nation’s worst coronavirus outbreaks among its nursing homes have occurred in the five states House Republicans are seeking investigations.
New Jersey has reported 6,571 deaths of nursing home residents and workers and New York, which only reports coronavirus deaths of residents who died while physically at the nursing home facility, has reported 6,423 deaths.
Pennsylvania has reported 4,471 coronavirus deaths among nursing home residents and staff, accounting for about 68% of the state’s total fatalities from the virus. California and Michigan have reported 2,334 and 2,010 nursing home resident deaths, respectively.
Each of the states issued orders preventing nursing homes from denying admission to hospital patients based solely on being tested positive for coronavirus. New York was the first to issue such an order on March 25, and by April 15 the other four states had followed suit with their own orders.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has repeatedly blamed the federal government for nursing home deaths in his state’s long term care facilities, saying that his order was in line with federal guidelines.
But Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Administrator Seema Verma said in May that New York’s order ran counter to guidance from the federal government, which stated that nursing homes should admit coronavirus-positive patients into their facilities only if they can follow quarantining guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“Grieving families of those who died as a result of these orders deserve answers about why they were put in place and the full extent of their impact, and there is no amount of stonewalling, name-calling, or blame-shifting that will make us give up on getting them,” Scalise said.
The five Republican members of the House coronavirus subcommittee wrote to the Democratic governors of the five states earlier in June seeking information about their nursing home orders.
While the governors of Michigan, California, Pennsylvania and New Jersey provided responses to the select committee, Cuomo has yet to provide a response.
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