COVID-19: Garcia stands behind call to investigate Newsom’s handling of nursing homes

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Rep. Mike Garcia, R-Santa Clarita, said Wednesday he supports a call on the House of Representatives’ Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis to open an investigation into how five governors, including Gov. Gavin Newsom, have handled nursing homes during the pandemic. 

His support comes after Rep. Steve Scalise, R-Louisiana, and four other GOP lawmakers sent letters to Newsom and the governors of New York, Michigan, New Jersey and Pennsylvania, stating that they forced nursing homes to take in patients positive with COVID-19 as part of their pandemic response. 

The representatives said that governors ignored guidance issued by the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services from March 13, which indicated that “nursing homes should admit any individual that they would normally admit to their facility, including individuals from hospitals where a case of COVID-19 was/is present” only if the nursing home can follow Centers for Disease Control quarantining guidance. 

Instead, states “issued guidance and executive orders forcing nursing homes to admit people with the virus, thereby encouraging the spread to those vulnerable populations,” according to a Scalise news release. 

“We write seeking information, at a granular level, about the science and information used to inform your decision to mandate nursing homes and long-term care facilities admit untested and contagious COVID-19 patients from hospitals,” read the June 15 letter to Newsom. “This decision likely contributed to the thousands of elderly deaths in California.”

The letter also states that it requests information such as data on all diagnoses, suspected positive cases and deaths related to COVID-19 at nursing homes since Jan. 1 and all communications between the California Department of Public Health and all of the state’s nursing home administrators. 

Garcia said he reviewed Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services data that revealed nearly 30,000 nursing home residents and nearly 500 staff were diagnosed with COVID-19 and 2,644 deaths were related to the virus. 

“Shame on our state’s leadership in Sacramento for blatantly ignoring guidance from CMS and, in turn, endangering the most vulnerable among us,” said Garcia in a prepared statement. “I fully support Rep. Scalise’s call on the Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis to open an oversight investigation into the actions of Gov. Newsom and others.” 

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