Senate Republicans Call For COVID Nursing Home Data Probe
February 26, 2021
By Jessica Mathews / email@example.com
A local lawmaker is among a group of Republican senators calling for an investigation into Michigan’s nursing home data.
Eight Republican state senators, including Lana Theis of Brighton Township, sent a letter to Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel's Office and the U.S. Attorney General. They’re calling for an investigation about alleged discrepancies in how the number of nursing home cases and deaths were reported. The letter requests the state’s long-term care facility policies be examined, along with compliance with CDC guidelines, public record laws, and data accuracy. The Senators maintain that it’s essential all cases stemming from nursing homes be tracked and publicly documented when a patient from a facility tests positive or dies after being transferred to the hospital.
Long-term care facilities have been required since June by the state to perform weekly testing of residents and staff. That data is reported to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services and posted weekly for public viewing. In May, guidance was reissued to better align with federal requirements, and a new reporting system was implemented. MDHHS Director Elizabeth Hertel has declined to testify before the House Oversight Committee about how data is gathered, as she spent significant time doing so during the last session.
On Thursday, Theis sent out a press release urging her Senate colleagues to consider the rejection of Hertel by Governor Gretchen Whitmer as director unless she “fully commits to reopening the state immediately, to restore a fully in-person learning experience for K-12 students, and to not shutting down school sports, the Senate should reject her appointment.”
The Senate letter alleges the executive orders issued only required facilities to report a resident who tests positive, not when a patient who was transferred tests positive. The letter further questions if there are discrepancies in how deaths are reported after the transfer of a patient.
Meanwhile, House Republicans are expected to follow the Senate lead and issue a similar letter.
A press release issued by Republican State Representative Bob Bezotte states “Under CMS guidelines, indoor restrictions could have been lifted when county positivity rates were between 5-10% or below 5%. Michigan saw that drop in COVID-19 cases throughout the summer and fall seasons, but the state did not adopt or implement CMS suggestions. This is a blatant misuse of government power, and everyone from Gov. Whitmer to MDHHS employees should be held accountable. We all need human connection to survive, and our government officials have cruelly robbed nursing home residents of that opportunity.”