June 29,2020

Grassley, Walden Request Investigation into COVID-19 Nursing Home Deaths

Washington Senate Finance Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Energy and Commerce Committee Republican Leader Greg Walden (R-Ore.) today sent a letter to the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) requesting the OIG initiate an investigation into whether or not five states – California, Michigan, New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania – violated federal guidance in pressuring nursing home facilities to accept patients who tested positive for COVID-19. In the letter, the leaders cite guidance issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as well as the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, suggesting state officials that pressured COVID-positive patients back into nursing homes may have risked the health and safety of some of our nation’s most vulnerable citizens.


“As reported by the media, the governors of a handful of states in which nursing homes struggled to provide safe and adequate care recently ordered nursing homes ‘to accept patients with active COVID-19 infections who were being discharged from hospitals.’ Governors issuing such directives include those in New York, New Jersey, California, Pennsylvania, and Michigan,” Grassley and Walden wrote.


“These state directives were issued as the COVID-19 fatality rate in nursing homes soared. In Pennsylvania, which reportedly has the seventh highest death rate for residents of these facilities, 69 percent of the state’s COVID-19 fatalities are now attributable to nursing and personal care homes. Similarly, in New Jersey, the rate was roughly 52 percent as of last month; in New York, at least 6,000 deaths are attributable to nursing homes; and in Michigan, where the governor’s directive has yet to be rescinded, 34 percent of COVID-19 deaths reportedly are linked to nursing homes.”


Grassley and Walden requested the OIG deliver its findings to Congress no later than September 30, 2020. Read the full letter HERE.