Republicans on the House Oversight Committee are escalating their investigation into New York’s COVID-19 nursing home policies and are now accusing Democratic New York Gov. Kathy Hochul of obstructing their efforts to determine how the policy contributed to numerous deaths early on in the pandemic.
Rep. Brad Wenstrup (R-Ohio), who chairs the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Pandemic, has been scrutinizing New York and other states over policies that placed COVID-19-positive patients in nursing homes in the early months of the pandemic. States with these policies saw thousands of COVID-19 deaths, including New York, which recorded more than 15,000 deaths among nursing home patients.
According to a Republican Oversight Committee press statement on Monday, Republican lawmakers have issued more than eight letters to Ms. Hochul and her predecessor—former Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo—to provide documents and communications pertaining to the nursing home policy COVID-19 policy. Despite these repeated communications, the Republican press statement claimed Ms. Hochul’s office still had yet to produce a single responsive document.
“In a recent attempt to obfuscate and deflect responsibility, Governor Hochul’s office asked the New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH) to respond to the Select Subcommittee on behalf of the Governor. This evasion of accountability raises further questions about Governor Hochul’s role in covering-up for the failures of her predecessor — Andrew Cuomo,” the Republican press statement reads.
Mr. Wenstrup and Rep. Nicole Malliotakis (R-N.Y.) sent new letters to Ms. Hochul and NYSDOH Commissioner James McDonald, reiterating their demands for documentation on New York’s nursing home admissions policy.
“The Select Subcommittee will not tolerate any further unjustified delay. As an accommodation to the Governor’s Office, we write to you today tabling some of our previous requests and providing greater specificity to the remaining requests,” the two Republicans wrote in their letter to Ms. Hochul.
In their letter to Mr. McDonald, the two Republicans acknowledged his department had provided some limited documentation from its end, but hadn’t fully answered all of the select subcommittee’s questions.
Republicans Want Governor’s Internal Records on Nursing Home Deaths
In their letters to both Ms. Hochul and Mr. McDonald, the two Republicans asked for all documents and communications pertaining to the March 25, 2020, publication of the New York pandemic-era nursing home admission policy. Among other records the Republicans requested were documents and communications between NYSDOH officials and nursing home administrators pertaining to the implementation of the March 25, 2020, nursing home admissions policy.
Mr. Wenstrup and Ms. Malliotakis are also aiming to find out what the New York governor’s office and other New York health officials knew about COVID-19 deaths in nursing homes from the early months of the pandemic onward. They requested documents and communications specifically pertaining to COVID-19 death totals, including totals used by the governor’s office in daily press briefings.
The two Republican lawmakers further requested records referencing several individuals involved in New York’s initial COVID-19 response, as well as the early federal COVID-19 response. Those individuals included Mr. Cuomo, Dr. Anthony Fauci, Dr. Robert Redfield, Alex Azar, Dr. Deborah Birx, then-President Donald Trump, and his son-in-law Jared Kushner.
The two Republicans set a Nov. 13 deadline for Ms. Hochul and Mr. McDonald to provide the records they are seeking.
NTD News reached out to Ms. Hochul’s office, seeking comment about the Republican accusations her office had obstructed their investigations and about the efforts her office had taken to provide the requested documents. Her office did not respond by the time this article was published.
Last month, Mr. Wenstrup and Ms. Malliotakis threatened to subpoena Mr. Cuomo, alleging he had also failed to produce requested documents pertaining to his role in New York’s COVID-19 nursing home admissions policy.