By James W. Lytle
Concerns over New York State’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly with respect to its treatment of nursing homes, have recently re-emerged in light of a new report and court ruling related to the matter.
Almost from the outset of the pandemic, the State faced scrutiny as to whether it was accurately reporting deaths of nursing home patients.
After nursing homes complained in April about the lack of PPE and other resources to combat the pandemic, Governor Andrew Cuomo responded that it was not the state’s responsibility, and asked the Department of Health and the Attorney General to launch investigations into nursing homes’ response to the pandemic.
Nine months later, in late January 2021, the report by New York State Attorney General Letitia James of the nursing home investigation was released.
Among the report’s headlines, the Attorney General’s preliminary analysis found that the Department of Health had undercounted deaths of nursing home residents due to COVID-19 by about 50%, largely because of the failure of the State to count the deaths of those residents who were transferred to hospitals immediately prior to their deaths. No other state excluded patients who had been transferred before death to hospitals from their nursing home fatality reports.