Rep. Scalise Holds Democrat Governors Accountable for COVID-19 Nursing Home Deaths

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Posted by Tom Hebert on Monday, June 15th, 2020, 5:14 PM PERMALINK

House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) is leading the effort to hold Democrat governors accountable for their nightmarish policy of sending Coronavirus patients to nursing homes, a recklessly incompetent decision that needlessly sent tens of thousands of American seniors to an early grave. 

In a briefing Thursday in the House Select Committee on the Coronavirus Crisis, Scalise said that he plans to request more information from each governor that implemented this policy.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) created the Select Committee in an effort to politicize our nation’s Coronavirus response and damage President Trump’s reelection effort. House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.), the Congressman who told lawmakers the pandemic was an “tremendous opportunity to restructure things to fit our vision,” chairs the sham committee.

Clyburn held the hearing on nursing home fatalities to try and shift blame away from Democrat governors that sent COVID-19 patients to nursing homes. This blatant attempt to blame Trump for a tragedy that Democrat governors created is a shameful weaponization of the pandemic for political gain. 

The Coronavirus pandemic is an unprecedented public health crisis. There’s a lot we still don’t know about the disease, but one clear trend is that elderly populations are most at risk of contracting and dying from COVID-19. 

As Scalise notes, nursing home residents comprise 0.6 percent of the American population, but account for 42 percent of nationwide COVID-19 deaths. This is a tragedy that could have been avoided if governors like Andrew Cuomo (D-NY) and Gretchen Whitmer (D-Mich.) followed Trump Administration guidance for handling the pandemic.

As early as February, guidance from the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) noted that elderly populations in Europe were especially vulnerable to the Coronavirus. On March 13, CMS Administrator Seema Verma explicitly stated: “[u]nder no circumstances should a hospital discharge a patient to a nursing home that is not prepared to take care of those patient’s needs.”

Democrat governors disregarded these warnings and put nursing home workers and residents in danger. For example: 

  • On March 25th, Cuomo’s health department mandated that nursing homes take Coronavirus patients, andsaid that nursing homes “don’t have the right to object” to the order. After Cuomo’s abject failure became apparent and over 5,300 New Yorkers died in nursing homes, he backtracked and reversed the order. 
     
  • On March 31st, Governor Phil Murphy (D-N.J.) issued an executive order that essentially mirrored Cuomo’s. Since then, there have been more than 6,327 coronavirus deaths in long-term care facilities, and the New Jersey State Senate is investigating the state’s disastrous handling of the pandemic.
     
  • On April 15th, Governor Gretchen Whitmer (D-Mich.) issued a similar executive order that forced nursing homes to accept patients regardless of testing positive for COVID-19. This caused a bipartisan uproar among Whitmer’s constituents, with a Democratic State Representative calling the order an “epic fail.” Since Whitmer’s order, there have been over 2,297 Coronavirus-related deaths in Michigan nursing homes.
     
  • Governor Tom Wolf (D-Penn.) also failed to keep his elderly constituents safe by ordering nursing homes to accept Coronavirus patients. In a stunning display of hypocrisy, Pennsylvania’s health director moved her own mother out of a nursing home as the pandemic rippled through the state’s nursing home community.More than 2/3rds of Pennsylvania's COVID-19 fatalities have been in nursing homes.
     

Governors that took the time to look at the data and follow the Trump Administration’s guidelines have had very different results. In early March, Governor Ron DeSantis (R-Fla.) locked down Florida’s nursing homes and banned COVID-19 patients from entering. Even in a state with a large elderly population that was a landing spot for tens of thousands of Americans fleeing other states, Florida has seen significantly less nursing home deaths than in states with this disastrous policy. 

As Rep. Scalise notes:

"The decision of several governors to essentially mandate COVID positive patients go back to their nursing homes ended up being a death sentence.  New York has suffered 6,318 deaths in nursing homes.   New Jersey, 6,327.  Compare that to Florida - a retirement state - 1,454.  On a per capita basis, nursing homes deaths in New York are 500% higher than Florida and New Jersey is 1,120 percent higher than Florida."

States that followed the Trump Administration’s nursing home guidance were largely successful at drastically lowering the number of seniors that died in assisted living facilities. In contrast, states like New York, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey, flouted the guidance under the direction of their Democrat governors and saw tens of thousands of American seniors die from Coronavirus.

Instead of letting these Democrat Governors escape accountability thanks to Pelosi and Clyburn, Rep. Scalise is rightly demanding answers for the sake of these seniors and their families. 

Photo Credit: Gage Skidmore

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