House Oversight Committee Chairwoman Carolyn Maloney said Thursday she was “incredibly proud” of how New York handled the coronavirus outbreak in nursing homes and said the federal government should be blamed for the state’s nationwide-leading death toll in its long-term care facilities.
“I want to briefly respond to the unfounded attacks I have heard today on my home state of New York,” Maloney, a Democrat, said during a coronavirus select subcommittee hearing Thursday. “The facts are clear. During this crisis, Americans have died in nursing homes in every state in the United States.”
She added: “This is not a red state or a blue state problem. It is a national problem. We urgently need a national solution. As for my home state … I am incredibly proud of New York’s response.”
New York issued an order on March 25 that prevented nursing homes from denying admission to coronavirus patients based on their diagnosis alone. Critics said the order, which was partially reversed in early May, contributed to the state’s massive coronavirus death toll among nursing home patients.
Maloney said New York’s order was in line with federal guidance, a claim that conflicts with a statement from Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Administrator Seema Verma, who said in May that the state’s order did not follow Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance stipulating that nursing homes should only admit coronavirus positive patients if they can follow certain precautions.
“Our state followed CDC guidance, including on nursing homes,” Maloney said. “What we lacked was strong federal support to get testing and personal protective equipment into nursing homes quickly to prevent the spread of the virus.”
Maloney also noted that nursing home residents comprise more than half the total coronavirus deaths in many states across the country. However, she failed to acknowledge that New York admitted to knowingly undercounting nursing home deaths after quietly changing its reporting rules in late April to only count nursing home deaths that occurred at the facility.
Maloney’s defense of New York came after Republican Reps. Steve Scalise of Louisiana and Jim Jordan of Ohio criticized her state’s policy during the hearing, which according to The Associated Press forced New York nursing homes to accept more than 4,500 coronavirus patients amid the pandemic.
“On March 25th Governor Cuomo’s health department issued a deadly directive in contradiction to CMS guidance by mandating nursing homes to take COVID-19 positive patients — an order Governor Cuomo waited 46 days to reverse,” Scalise spokeswoman Lauren Fine told the Daily Caller News Foundation.
“The numbers don’t lie: New York has had 500% more deaths per capita in nursing homes than in Florida, for example, where CMS guidelines were followed,” Fine said. “Congresswoman Maloney should put her partisanship aside and join Republicans in seeking answers on how this deadly decision — that directly impacts her constituents — was ever allowed to happen.”
Maloney’s office did not return a request for comment.
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