Senate Republicans Still Seeking COVID Nursing Home Probe
March 29, 2021
By Jessica Mathews & Jon King / firstname.lastname@example.org
The GOP-controlled Michigan Senate has approved a supplemental budget bill to make $250,000 available to county prosecutors to investigate Governor Gretchen Whitmer administration’s policy regarding COVID-19 patients and the state’s nursing homes and long-term care facilities.
The Senate approved the bill on Thursday. Republican State Senator Lana Theis of Brighton Township issued a press release saying “It is truly unfortunate to have to introduce legislation such as this." She commented that if the governor had listened to the experts "and kept COVID-19-positive patients out of our nursing homes, this bill wouldn’t be necessary. If our attorney general had put the people of this state before her political allegiances — like they did in New York — and investigated the policy, this bill wouldn’t be necessary. But the obfuscation of this policy and its true impact leaves one to believe there is intent to hide the evidence."
Theis added that it’s unfortunate, "that our governor and the state health department were responsible for the policy that put people with COVID-19 in the living spaces of seniors who we know to be the most vulnerable to the coronavirus and who now account for at least one-third of our state’s COVID-19 deaths."
However, reporting by MLive.com last week indicated that numbers show Michigan is below the national average in nursing home deaths from COVID-19 and there’s no evidence that Michigan has been hiding data as is currently under investigation in New York. AARP Michigan spokesperson Mark Hornbeck commented that while coronavirus deaths in nursing homes have been a "horrible problem" Michigan is not "an outlier,” adding, “It’s not like we’re sticking out like a sore thumb.” Despite repeated accusations to the contrary, Michigan’s policy of forcing nursing homes to accept COVID-positive patients was never actually implemented, with the state issuing a later order stating they could decline to admit COVID patients.
Data shows that the big issue was not patient transfer but asymptomatic and pre-symptomatic transmission by nursing home staff who would enter and leave the facilities on a daily basis. A report by the Center for Health and Research Transformation showed the state’s strategy was appropriate, stating "Michigan’s hub strategy performed well. The percentage of deaths among nursing home residents with COVID-19 was considerably lower in Michigan’s nursing home hubs than in the state’s non-hub nursing homes: 17.4 percent in hubs compared to 26 percent in non-hubs." It also indicated that many other states did the same thing as Michigan in isolating COVID-patients from non-COVID patients in the same facilities – and that there is "no evidence of transmission of COVID-19 between patients admitted from hospitals to nursing home residents in hubs."