DOJ Asks for Data From 4 State Governors Who Ordered Readmission of Elderly COVID-19 Patients Into Nursing Homes
Should the DOJ look into state orders that sent elderly COVID-19 patients back to nursing homes?
by Causes | 8.27.20
What’s the story?
- The Dept. of Justice (DOJ) on Wednesday asked the Democratic governors of Michigan, New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania to provide coronavirus (COVID-19) data related to the deaths of thousands of elderly nursing home residents which may have been caused by orders issued by the governors requiring nursing homes to readmit COVID-19 patients. Nursing homes have been hit hard by the pandemic, as elderly patients are particularly vulnerable to serious complications and death from COVID-19.
- The DOJ is seeking the data to help determine whether it will initiate investigations into whether the states’ orders are responsible for the deaths of nursing home residents and justify civil rights charges under the Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act (CRIPA). Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division Eric Dreiband said:
“Protecting the rights of some of society’s most vulnerable members, including elderly nursing home residents, is one of our country’s most important obligations. We must ensure they are adequately cared for with dignity and respect and not unnecessarily put at risk.”
- Letters were sent by the DOJ to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D), New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy (D), Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf (D), and Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) ― each of whom issued readmission orders applicable to public nursing homes. For example, on March 25, 2020, Cuomo ordered that in New York:
“No resident shall be denied re-admission or admission to [a nursing home] solely based on a confirmed or suspected diagnosis of COVID-19. [Nursing homes] are prohibited from requiring a hospitalized resident who is determined medically stable to be tested for COVID-19 prior to admission or readmission.”
- That order seems to conflict with a pair of federal directives issued before New York's order took effect. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) released a document on March 13th stating that nursing homes should only accept patients for whom they care safely care for. A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) directive that took effect on March 23rd recommended that the medical readiness of a patient to be discharged from the hospital to a nursing home and the ability of the long-term care facility to safely care for a patient recovering from COVID-19 both be considered before a discharge occurs.
- Whitmer’s Press Secretary Tiffany Brown offered the following statement on the DOJ’s letter:
“Protecting the health, safety, and wellbeing of our seniors and most vulnerable residents has been a top priority throughout this crisis. The fact that this letter was sent during the middle of the Republican National Convention week to four Democratic governors should make it crystal clear that this is nothing more than election year politics by an administration that is more concerned with the president’s re-election campaign than protecting Michigan seniors. We will review this letter and respond as appropriate, however, Americans would all be better served if the Trump administration stopped the partisan games and focused on delivering a real plan to defeat COVID-19.”
— Eric Revell
(Photo Credit: iStock.com / Tempura)
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