Scalise, Brady, Walden set the record straight about Democrats’ half-baked nursing home report

Published: Jul 1, 2020

On Wednesday, Ranking Members Kevin Brady (R-Texas) and Greg Walden (R-Ore.) joined Republican Whip and Ranking Member of the Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis Steve Scalise (R-La.) to set the record straight in response to the release of Senate Democrats’ report blaming the Trump Administration for America’s nursing home crisis in clear ignorance of the facts:

Senate Democrats’ latest report about the administration’s nursing home response is incomplete, one-sided, and grossly misleading. The fact that Senators Casey and Peters put their names on something that fails to address their own governors’ failures shows just how unserious and partisan it is. 
The facts have not changed and they are obviously not on the Democrats’ side here: Five Democrat Governors mandated COVID-positive patients be forced back to their nursing homes.

“If the tragedy in our nursing homes is the federal government’s fault, the numbers would be consistent between the five states who issued deadly ‘must admit’ orders and the 45 other states. They are not consistent. Anyone paying attention knows that five states failed their nursing home patients. Once again, the grieving families affected by these orders still deserve answers, and no amount of desperate blame-shifting will stop us from getting them.

Here’s the reality:
Four Facts That Will Never Change:
  1. CMS issued its first guidance regarding COVID in nursing homes on February 6 – three weeks before the first outbreak in Kirkland, WA.
  2. CMS issued clear guidance on March 13 to avoid discharging COVID-positive patients back to a nursing home that is unable to properly treat and quarantine them.
  3. Despite that warning, five Governors issued lethal “must admit” orders mandating nursing homes accept possibly contagious and untested residents discharged from a hospital.
  4. Fearing legal repercussions, nursing homes followed these orders and these orders resulted in thousands of preventable deaths.
More details on the administration’s response:
CMS acted quickly, once it knew the states were misreporting data on nursing home fatalities, to collect data straight from the nursing homes.
  • Many states, such as New York, Pennsylvania, and Michigan, continue to misreport data on the tragedies occurring inside their nursing homes.
    • New York fails to report any nursing home resident that dies outside of their residence; if they fully reported, their death toll could double.
    • Pennsylvania ended daily reporting of nursing home fatalities for three weeks, during that time they issued sporadic reports inconsistent with public statements.
    • Michigan reported 2,297 nursing home fatalities on June 13 but on June 14 only reported 1,967; somehow 330 fatalities vanished overnight.
  • On May 8, CMS took the unprecedented step to require reporting to combat these discrepancies.
CMS and the Trump Administration directed every state to test nursing home residents and staff regularly to curb the spread of infection.
  • On May 1, the CDC made nursing homes their top priority; a move that would ensure nursing homes received testing supplies and results first.
  • On May 11, Vice President Pence and Dr. Deborah Birx told all 50 governors to prioritize testing all nursing home residents and staff over the next two weeks.
  • The Administration saw that testing efforts in nursing homes, particularly Tennessee, led to significantly better results that other states, like New York, New Jersey, and Michigan.
  • To assist states in accomplishing this goal the Administration allocated over $1 billion for testing supplies and 12.9 million testing swabs directly to nursing homes.
The Trump Administration directly suppled all 15,000 Medicare Nursing Homes with needed PPE.
  • As of June 30, the Administration sent 23,343 deliveries of PPE and medical supplies to nursing homes to all 53 states and territories.
  • This distribution included a full two-week supply of PPE to all 15,400 Medicare ensuring homes.
  • In addition to these massive amounts of supplies, the Administration sent $5 billion in relief directly to nursing homes to help with supply and staffing shortages.
House Republicans’ Investigations:
  • While nursing home residents make up 0.6% of the U.S. population, they account for 42% of nationwide COVID-19 deaths, Ranking Member Scalise pointed out at last week’s briefing.
  • New York has seen 6,448 deaths in nursing homes and New Jersey has seen 6,626. Those are in comparison to the 1,867 seen in Florida, a retirement state that followed CMS guidelines. On a per-capita basis, nursing home deaths in New York have been 400% higher than Florida and New Jersey’s have been have been 1,000% higher than Florida.
  • Last week, Democrats sent their own letters trying to blame CMS for the nursing home situation, which Ranking Member Scalise called “desperate” and “completely divorced from reality.”
  • Last Tuesday, Governor Cuomo blamed nursing home workers for infecting seniors in his state. Ranking Member Scalise responded that the attempt was “despicable” and added that  “Governor Cuomo has no one but himself to blame for this tragedy.”
  • Select Subcommittee Republicans have requested information from the five governors who issued lethal ‘must admit’ orders. Democrats on the panel have refused to join these efforts.
  • Responses to the Select Subcommittee’s initial requests for information can be found below (Gov. Cuomo has still not directly responded):
  • Last week all five Republican members of the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis, as well as Republican members of the New York, California, Michigan, and Pennsylvania delegations, urged the attorneys general of those states to investigate the origins of their governors’ nursing home orders.
  • On Monday, Ranking Member Walden Joined Senate Finance Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) on a letter requesting information the crisis in America’s nursing homes.