#NY Republicans call on Letitia James to probe Cuomo’s nursing home order

#NY Republicans call on Letitia James to probe Cuomo’s nursing home order

ALBANY — House Republicans are turning up the heat on Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s controversial coronavirus nursing home policy, calling on Democratic state Attorney General Letitia James to back an independent investigation of the matter, The Post has learned.

The five Republicans on the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis signed and sent a letter to James — along with separate, similar letters to the state attorneys general of New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Michigan and California — demanding investigations into their respective governors’ handling of the deadly virus in nursing homes.

The lawmakers argue Cuomo and the four other Democrats violated federal guidance by issuing their own variation of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services guidelines, and thus jeopardized the lives of thousands of senior citizens.

“The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has disproportionately affected the elderly, especially those living in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities. On April 23, 2020, in coordination with New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Department of Health, you announced a statewide investigation of nursing homes during the ongoing Pandemic,” wrote ranking subcommittee member Rep. Steve Scalise of Louisiana.

The signers also included New York’s GOP delegation, the Empire State’s own Reps. Elise Stefanik, Tom Reed, Peter King, John Katko and Lee Zelden in a joint letter to James Thursday.

The signers included the Empire State’s own Reps. Elise Stefanik, Tom Reed, Peter King, John Katko and Lee Zelden in a joint letter to James Thursday.

“We understand that your investigation will not cover the Governor’s March 25, 2020 directive on ‘Hospital Discharges and Admissions to Nursing Homes,’ which recklessly reintroduced the disease into the most vulnerable population. Therefore, we write requesting that you formally review the impact of this deadly policy and make your findings available to the citizens of New York and families of those who lost loved ones as a result of this deadly policy,” they added.

They also want copies of all communications between Cuomo and James’ office dating back to Jan. 1, 2020 about nursing homes, setting a formal response deadline of next Thursday, July 2.

The letters follow last week’s request by the Republican committee members for state-specific nursing home data and briefings from the five Democratic governors.

New York was the only state that refused to respond.

Cuomo has recently begun attributing the nursing home debate to mainly a partisan political attack, as the issue has risen to national prominence.

But criticism over Cuomo’s March 25 directive requiring nursing homes to admit COVID-19 positive patients from hospitals has been waged by GOP and Democratic lawmakers alike, plus medical professionals and family members who lost loved ones in these facilities.

Cuomo’s office has said they were following federal CDC guidance from March 13, citing state law that says facilities shouldn’t be accepting patients they can’t care for.

Cuomo has said it wasn’t that order that drove up the death toll, but rather sick staff allowed to work by the state DOH that introduced the virus into facilities.

But industry sources have told The Post the governor’s March 25 gave nursing home operators no choice but to accept, and they paid the consequences.

The state Department of Health has recorded over 6,200 presumed and confirmed COVID-19 related deaths in nursing homes since March 1.

“These partisan hacks can write all the deceitful letters they want and pretend like this is a legitimate legislative action, but this remains nothing more than a cheap election year stunt aimed at blue states to hide from the shameful and incompetent federal response to this pandemic,” Cuomo senior advisor Rich Azzopardi said in a statement.

“Once again, S10 N.Y.C.R.R. Section 415.26 states that a nursing home shall accept & retain only those residents for whom it can provide adequate care — that’s always been operative in New York, and is consistent with every federal guideline issued – and still in effect — no matter what these partisan functionaries are now saying months later,” he seethed.

DOH told The Post Thursday — following multiple requests for data — their inspectors have performed 1,100 “focus survey” inspections at 586 state-licensed nursing homes and 504 at adult care facilities to date.

That total includes 148 out of 168 nursing homes in New York City and 44 out of 77 adult care facilities in New York City.

The Health Department refused to provide a list of facilities cited for penalties of up to $2,000 per violation, instead saying a Freedom of Information request must be submitted.

James’s office did not immediately return a request for comment.


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