Congressman Mike Garcia, R-Santa Clarita, released a statement Wednesday morning in which he voiced support for an oversight investigation into the actions of Governor Newsom and other governors across the country over their nursing home policies during the COVID-19 pandemic.
After seeing that nearly half of the over 5,500 coronavirus-related deaths in California were reported within nursing homes, Garcia contacted the House of Representatives’ Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis for “more specific statistics.”
Congressman Steve Scalise, who serves as the Representative for Louisiana’s first Congressional District and the Ranking Member of the Select Subcommittee, shared “critical information” with Garcia regarding the effects COVID-19 has had on nursing home residents and long-term care patients.
“Rep. Scalise found that the governors of five states forced nursing homes to take in COVID-19 positive patients as part of their response to the pandemic despite guidance from the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) advising against this practice unless the facility could follow CDC’s quarantining guidance,” reads a statement issued by Garcia Wednesday.
While that mandate has since been reversed, Scalise said that Californians “deserve to know why it was enacted in the first place.”
“The death toll in California’s nursing homes is a tragedy. Even worse – many of these deaths were preventable,” Scalise said. “If state officials will not be transparent and accountable to their constituents, then Congress must step in and shine a light on the flawed decision making behind the scandal.”
After speaking to Scalise, Garcia went on to request a briefing to gain further information on the issue.
“During that briefing, CMS data showed almost 30,000 nursing home residents and nearly 500 staff have fallen to COVID-19,” Wednesday’s statement reads. “But experts suggest that the number is closer to 60,000.”
According to Garcia, the data also indicated that California had 2,644 nursing home deaths. Compared with other states of similar size, California has 11.23 nursing home deaths per 1,000 nursing home residents, whereas Florida has 9.07 and Texas has 6.2; a 124% increase and 180% increase respectively.
“Shame on our state’s leadership in Sacramento for blatantly ignoring guidance from CMS and, in turn, endangering the most vulnerable among us,” Garcia said. “Rather than doing everything within our power to flatten the curve and protect our seniors, Governor Newsom instead ordered that nursing homes ‘shall not refuse’ a patient with a positive COVID-19 test.”
Garcia also alleges that Governor Newsom offered a “cash incentive of $1,000 per day per patient to house COVID-19 positive patients in nursing homes and long-term care facilities.”
“Governor Newsom’s decision to entice nursing homes with taxpayer dollars to house COVID-19 positive patients among our seniors is disappointing,” he said. “That money should have been pointed towards prevention rather than placing vulnerable citizens in danger.”
In light of this information, Garcia has voiced support for an investigation into Newsom and other state officials over the nursing home policy during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I fully support Representative Scalise’s call on the Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis to open an oversight investigation into the actions of Governor Newsom and others,” Garcia said.
Garcia represents California’s 25th Congressional District, which includes the Santa Clarita Valley, the Antelope Valley, and portions of Simi Valley.
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