HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — More than 50% of COVID-related deaths in Pa. have happened in nursing homes and long-term care facilities. Legislative Republicans have called for the Attorney General or Inspector General to investigate. Both of them have chosen not to.
On Monday, lawmakers said they’ll take the matter into their own hands.
“We need to know what went wrong,” Rep. Natalie Mihalek (R-Allegheny, Washington) said.
Republicans announced the House Oversight Committee will investigate whether Wolf Administration policies caused increased deaths in nursing homes and long-term care facilities in Pennsylvania.
“Most of them dying alone, with no goodbyes, no hand to hold and no answers,” Rep. Mihalek said.
Specifically, lawmakers are focused on a March 18, 2020, mandate requiring nursing homes in Pennsylvania take COVID-positive patients.
“Even when they were not prepared it made no sense at the time and it certainly had tragic consequences,” Rep. Clint Owlett (R-Bradford, Potter, Tioga) said.
Lawmakers asked the question as to whether or not the March 18 mandate was a mistake, and say the question is not being answered.
“The fact that the answer was danced around so much leads me to believe they know it was a mistake,” Rep. Mihalek said.
The Governor’s office called the GOP criticism “baseless” adding the state doesn’t own or operate facilities.
“It is incumbent upon the nursing homes to follow infection control…..to keep patients safe,” said Governor Wolf’s spokesperson Lyndsay Kensinger in a statement.
House Democrats will be on the Oversight Committee and vow to highlight not only missteps but things that were done right. They added, “this fact-finding process will be guided by the truth and not by any false claims.”
The truth is that no nursing home, thus far, has stepped forward to say “the state made them do it,” that it was forced to take patient X against they’re will and others died as a result.
Critics say this investigation is more political than medical.
“Twelve-and-a-half thousand patients, over half the COVID deaths in nursing homes. I think that’s reason enough to want to look into this, and I think it’s enough reason for Pennsylvania families,” Rep. Kerry Benninghoff (R-Centre, Mifflin), the House Majority leader, said.
It’s very unusual for this type of investigation in the legislature. The House will begin when they return in mid-March.