The Pennsylvania House of Representatives announced an oversight investigation of Gov. Tom Wolf’s (D) handling of nursing homes and long-term care facilities during the coronavirus pandemic.
Reps. Mike Kelly (R-PA), Fred Keller (R-PA), Dan Meuser (R-PA), Glenn “GT” Thompson (R-PA), Scott Perry (R-PA), Lloyd Smucker (R-PA), John Joyce (R-PA), and Guy Reschenthaler (R-PA) issued the following statement:
The Pennsylvania Republican Congressional Delegation thanks the members of the General Assembly for taking the necessary steps to investigate the Wolf administration’s disastrous policies relating to our state’s nursing homes and long-term care facilities. Last March, the Pennsylvania Department of Health issued guidance requiring nursing homes to admit COVID-positive patients. Today, more than half of the state’s COVID fatalities have occurred in these facilities.
Unfortunately, Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro has repeatedly failed to investigate the policies that put Pennsylvania seniors living in long-term care facilities at risk. Pennsylvanians deserve a full and transparent investigation into what went wrong. Our offices remain committed to ensuring all information is brought to light so that the health and safety of our senior citizens are never again jeopardized by the careless actions of a state executive.
In addition, the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) issued guidance on March 13, 2020, “For Infection Control and Prevention of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) in Nursing Homes.”
The March 13 guidance said, “nursing homes should admit any individual that they would normally admit to their facility, including individuals from hospitals where a case of COVID-19 was/is present” only if the nursing home can follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) quarantining guidance.
Former CMS administrator Seema Verma later said, “[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.”
Despite these warnings, however, Wolf issued guidance and executive orders forcing nursing homes to admit people with the virus, thereby encouraging the spread to those vulnerable populations.
The announcement of an oversight investigation comes amid Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s (D) top aide admitting that her team withheld the number of deaths related to COVID-19 in New York’s nursing homes to shield the Cuomo government from federal investigation and political scrutiny.
Besides Wolf and Cuomo, three other Democrat governors enacted similar nursing home policies during the coronavirus pandemic.
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D-MI) issued an order that a long-term care facility “must not prohibit admission or readmission of a resident based on COVID-19 [coronavirus] testing requirements or results.” The policy was renewed three times before being rescinded in July 2020.
Gov. Gavin Newsom’s (D-CA) administration ordered on April 10, 2020, that “patients hospitalized, or receiving treatment at an alternate care site, with COVID-19 can be discharged to a [skilled nursing facility] when clinically indicated.”
Gov. Phil Murphy (D-NJ) approved a directive from state Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli that said no patient could be denied admission or readmission to a nursing home “solely based on a confirmed diagnosis of COVID-19.” A patient may not be discharged until diagnostic test results have confirmed whether he or she should be discharged. However, nursing homes cannot require a discharged patient to undergo a coronavirus test as a prerequisite for admission to the nursing home as long as doctors conclude the patient is “medically stable.”