Republicans take governor to task on nursing home policy – News –

LANSING — A bill to change how the state of Michigan handles nursing home eligible residents with COVID-19 to protect residents without coronavirus passed Wednesday in the Michigan Senate.

The Republican-led Senate Bill 956 was approve 24-13 vote and was supported by state Sen. Dale Zorn, R-Ida.

The bill would prohibit individuals with COVID-19 who are ineligible for admission in a hospital from being placed in nursing homes unless the skilled nursing facility has “a state-approved designated area and program to provide appropriate care necessary to the patient,” according to a news release Wednesday.

The bill would also require the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) to develop and submit a plan to the Legislature describing how it would ensure there are dedicated intake facilities to provide care for COVID-19 positive patients. It would also evaluate how the previously operated COVID-19 regional hubs operated during the state’s coronavirus response in nursing home facilities and report findings to the health policy committees.

Currently, the state requires nursing home eligible patients that test positive to coronavirus be housed in dedicated units in private nursing homes that are under 80% capacity.

According to the Detroit Free Press, about a third of the state’s total coronavirus deaths were either residents or staff at nursing homes.

Supporters of the bill say that the governor’s decision to house COVID-19 positive patients in the 21 regional hub nursing home system was the reason for the high amount of nursing home deaths, something that the MDHHS denies.

“We must do everything possible to protect our most vulnerable residents, especially during a public health crisis. Unfortunately, with COVID-19 the state failed to do so — with deadly consequences,” Zorn said in a news release. “Instead of protecting our most at-risk seniors from the coronavirus, the governor ordered nursing facilities with less than 80% capacity to create space to accept patients with COVID-19, regardless of their ability to care for them and isolate the spread of the virus. As a result, nearly 2,000 people in our nursing homes have died from the virus, accounting for more than one-third of COVID-19 deaths in Michigan.”

Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives, led by Minority Whip Steve Scalise, R-La., sent a letter Friday to Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel to investigate the situation. Similar requests were made to attorneys general of New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and California — all states with Democratic governors and had nursing home policies similar to Michigan’s.

On Thursday, U.S. Rep. Tim Walberg, R-Tipton, questioned the White House Coronavirus Task Force about Michigan’s response to the virus during a hearing of the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

“Michigan is just one of a handful of states to force nursing homes to accept COVID-19 patients, which has led to devastating outcomes for seniors during this pandemic. Governor Whitmer needs to be more forthcoming in explaining why she ignored expert guidance and how she originally arrived at this harmful policy,” Walberg said in a news…

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