House Republicans sent letters to five Democratic governors demanding answers on what led the state executives to order nursing homes take in patients infected with the novel Wuhan coronavirus.
“The decision of several governors to ignore federal protocols and instead mandate COVID positive patients be forced back to their nursing homes ended up being a death sentence for tens of thousands of our nation’s most vulnerable citizens,” said Republican Whip Steve Scalise of Louisiana who also serves as the ranking member on the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis. “We owe it to those who died and their grieving families to get to the bottom of why these deadly decisions were made by these governors, ensure we stop this from still taking place, and prevent tragedies like these from happening again as we continue to battle this deadly virus.”
Scalise was joined by four other committee Republicans Monday sending letters to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, California Gov. Gavin Newsom, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy, and Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf, each who directed their state nursing home facilities to accept coronavirus patients even as older individuals are more vulnerable to viral complications.
“The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has disproportionately affected the elderly, especially those living in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities,” House members wrote. “We write seeking information, at a granular level, about the science and information used to inform your decision to mandate nursing homes and long-term care facilities admit untested and contagious COVID-19 patients from hospitals.”
On Tuesday, South Carolina Democratic Rep. Jim Clyburn who chairs the House Coronavirus committee tried to pin the blame on federal administrators at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to in turn, pivot the tragedy as a failure of the White House.
“The Subcommittee is concerned that lax oversight by the [CMS] and the federal government’s failure to provide testing supplies and personal protective equipment to nursing homes and long-term care facilities may have contributed to the spread of the coronavirus and the deaths of more than 40,000 Americans in these facilities,” Clyburn wrote announcing his committee’s new probe. “Despite CMS’ broad legal authority, the agency has largely deferred to states, local governments, and for-profit nursing homes to respond to the coronavirus crisis.”
Scalise pushed back, calling Clyburn’s move a “desperate,” and “completely divorced from reality.”
“The Democratic governors who ignored federal health guidelines and forced facilities to readmit patients failed our country’s vulnerable nursing home residents,” Scalise said in a statement, adding that 40 percent of nursing home deaths in the United States occurred in the five states who Republican lawmakers have sought answers from their governors. “The facts here are inescapable, but instead of joining Republicans’ effort to hold those governors accountable, Democrats on this Select Subcommittee are doing everything they can to shift the blame elsewhere.”