by WorldTribune Staff, May 1, 2020
President Donald Trump on April 30 said he is committed to ensuring that America’s seniors “have access to the healthcare resources they need during the coronavirus pandemic.”
Fox News reported on April 29 that nearly 12,000 of the 61,100 reported coronavirus deaths in the U.S. have been at nursing homes.
Trump’s vow comes amid revelations that New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo had ordered the state’s nursing homes to accept residents who had been diagnosed with or are suspected to have the coronavirus.
Radio and television host Mark Levin said “Cuomo has blood on his hands and is now attempting to blame the nursing homes. He’s unleashed law enforcement and his bureaucrats against the nursing homes that begged him not to send coronavirus patients into their residences. But he insisted.”
The Trump administration said it is also finalizing a new rule requiring information about COVID-19 cases in nursing homes to be reported directly to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and testing data to be posted online. The rule requires that nursing homes report cases to residents and their family members.
“In addition to the supplies we have already distributed, FEMA will send supplemental shipments of personal protective equipment to all 15,400 Medicaid and Medicare-certified nursing homes in America,” the White House said in an April 30 press release.
“The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is providing States with $81 million from the CARES Act to increase their inspections of nursing homes at this crucial time,” the White House said.
Cuomo on March 25 issued a directive which said: “No resident shall be denied re-admission or admission to the NH solely based on a confirmed or suspected diagnosis of COVID-19. NHs are prohibited from requiring a hospitalized resident who is determined medically stable to be tested for COVID-19 prior to admission or readmission.”
Levin said that Cuomo “must be investigated and held to account for his deadly fiat.”
Cuomo last month acknowledged that those in long-term care are especially vulnerable to COVID-19, saying nursing homes were “a feeding frenzy for this virus.” Yet when asked about the March 25 mandate, Cuomo maintained that “the facilities can’t challenge a state regulation forcing them to admit patients with the contagion,” the New York Post reported.
At the same time, Cuomo said facilities without adequate staffing and resources to handle coronavirus patients could transfer them to other facilities or “call the state Department of Health.”
But the head of a Brooklyn rest home told the New York Post that he’d been “warning state Health Department officials for weeks” about “staffing and equipment issues — yet received little help.” The health care facility had 55 deaths due to the coronavirus.
New York isn’t the only state that’s sent COVID-19 patients to nursing homes. New Jersey follows the same protocol, saying in a March 31 order from the state Department of Health: “No patient/resident shall be denied re-admission or admission to the post-acute care setting solely based on a confirmed diagnosis of COVID-19.”
California had a similar directive, which changed on March 30 following an outcry from the medical community. California now says that a nursing home “can be expected” to receive residents who test positive for the virus if it is able to follow the infection control guidelines from the CDC.
Tony Chicotel, a staff attorney with California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform, said he wasn’t satisfied with the change because the state let stand emergency waivers that allow nursing homes to temporarily expand capacity and reduce staff.