WASHINGTON, D.C. — Republican Whip and House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis Ranking Member Steve Scalise (R-La.) sent a letter yesterday afternoon calling on New York Governor Andrew Cuomo (D) to answer questions raised by the release of a report that Governor Cuomo has used to defend himself against suggestions that his “must admit” orders in New York nursing homes led to thousands of avoidable elderly deaths. The report, as detailed in Scalise’s letter, relies on flawed methodology and raises serious questions about the underlying data and resulting conclusions.
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House Minority Whip Steve Scalise sent a scathing letter to Democratic New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, accusing him of producing a faulty report that deflected blame from his administration for thousands of coronavirus nursing home deaths.
“In addition to being dubious on its face, this conclusion was reached through a flawed methodology,” Scalise wrote to Cuomo on Thursday in a letter obtained by the Washington Examiner. “Disappointingly, it also casts aspersions on our heroic frontline nursing home workers in the process.”
The Cuomo administration issued a report this week claiming the decision to send more than 6,300 people with the coronavirus into nursing homes was not to blame for more than 6,400 deaths in those facilities. The report instead concluded the spread of the coronavirus through nursing homes and long-term care facilities was caused by more than 20,000 infected nursing home and long-term care facility workers.
Scalise of Louisiana, who is the top Republican on a House coronavirus investigation committee, disputed the findings in his letter to Cuomo.
Among the flaws, Scalise wrote, is the report’s claim that coronavirus patients readmitted into nursing homes from hospital treatment were no longer contagious.
“This assessment is fundamentally flawed from the outset because it only accounts for patient deaths in nursing home facilities and does not conclude potentially readmission-related deaths that occurred after nursing home patients were transported to hospitals,” Scalise wrote. “This flawed use of data incorrectly colors every assertion made in the report.”
Scalise is seeking information from governors of several states that ordered infected patients to be readmitted to nursing homes. Nursing home and long-term care facilities account for half of coronavirus deaths in some states.
The Cuomo administration on March 25 issued an order that forced nursing homes in the state to accept coronavirus patients. The state reversed the order on May 10.
In June, Scalise sent a letter to the state demanding information about the decision to force coronavirus patients into nursing homes, but Cuomo ignored the request and called House Republicans seeking the information “craven political hacks,” seeking an election year boost.
Scalise said Cuomo’s report aims to “deflect criticism and shift blame,” and he said the GOP would continue to investigate the state’s actions.
“The families of those affected by your March 25 order deserve answers about why it was put in place and rest assured, we will not give up until we get those answers.”
House Democrats on the coronavirus task force control the panel’s majority. They are not investigating the role state officials played by forcing coronavirus patients into nursing homes. Instead, they are probing the actions of the five largest for-profit nursing home companies and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, which is the federal agency that oversees nursing homes in conjunction with the states.
Republicans point out the federal government discouraged nursing homes from accepting infected patients.
The CMS issued an order to nursing homes on March 13 to reject coronavirus patients unless they could follow federal quarantine requirements.