OKLAHOMA CITY, OK – Senator James Lankford (R-OK) joined Senator Ben Sasse (R-NE) and a group of Senate Finance Committee Republicans to call on Chairman Ron Wyden (D-OR) to open an investigation into New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s cover-up of New York’s nursing home death toll.
“This committee has direct oversight on this issue and a responsibility to act when HHS is unable to do its job due to a state deliberately misleading investigators or health officials. Nursing homes have been held accountable for failures to report coronavirus disease data to CMS, and state leaders should be as well,” the Senators write.
Last week, the New York Times reported that the cover-up of the death toll numbers was far worse than had been previously known with Cuomo’s aides overruling state health officials from releasing the actual numbers of COVID-19 deaths.
Lankford and Sasse were joined by Senators Chuck Grassley (IA), John Thune (SD), Tim Scott (SC), and John Barrasso (WY).
The full letter is available HERE and below:
Dear Chairman Wyden,
We ask that the Senate Finance Committee immediately open an investigation into New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s cover-up of the nursing home death toll during the COVID-19 pandemic and hold a hearing on this important topic.
Last week, The New York Times reported that Governor Cuomo’s cover-up “was far greater than previously known, with aides repeatedly overruling state health officials over a span of at least five months… Mr. Cuomo’s most senior aides engaged in a sustained effort to prevent the state’s own health officials… from releasing the true death toll to the public or sharing it with state lawmakers…” Governor Cuomo’s administration knew that 9,739 nursing home residents had died of COVID-19 by May 2020—approximately 35 percent of the state’s total COVID deaths. However, Governor Cuomo’s administration publicly claimed that just 21 percent of COVID deaths were in nursing homes. This is horrifying and unacceptable.
While we appreciate the hearing this committee held in March on the issue of COVID-19 nursing home oversight and the investigation that the US attorney in Brooklyn and the FBI have opened into the actions of the Cuomo administration, more must be done. 1.2 million of our nation’s seniors live in nursing homes and are disproportionately at risk of severe illness and death from COVID-19. Medicaid is the primary payer for 62 percent of nursing home residents and Medicare is the primary payer for another 12 percent. This committee has direct oversight on this issue and a responsibility to act when HHS is unable to do its job due to a state deliberately misleading investigators or health officials. Nursing homes have been held accountable for failures to report coronavirus disease data to CMS, and state leaders should be as well.
For these reasons, we ask that you open an investigation and hold a committee hearing on New York’s cover-up of nursing home deaths. Transparency and accountability are not partisan aims and must be taken seriously by this committee.