by Andrew Kerr
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo is wrong to say his state was following the Trump administration’s guidance when ordering nursing homes to admit coronavirus patients from hospitals, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Administrator (CMS) Seema Verma said Wednesday.
“Under no circumstances should a hospital discharge a patient to a nursing home that’s not prepared to take care of those patients’ needs,” Verma said on Fox News Radio. “The federal guidelines are absolutely clear about this.”
The New York State Department of Health ordered on March 25 that nursing homes in the state cannot deny admission to coronavirus patients. Critics have said the order, which was partially reversed in early May and later removed from the NYSDOH’s website, contributed to the massive coronavirus death toll from nursing home patients in the state.
Cuomo has attempted to deflect criticism by arguing that his state’s directive was in line with a March 13 order from CMS that stated nursing homes “should admit any individuals they normally admit to their facility, including individuals from hospitals where a case of COVID-19 was/is present.”
“What New York did was follow what the Republican administration said to do,” Cuomo said during a press conference Saturday. “That’s not my attempt to politicize it. It’s my attempt to depoliticize it. So don’t criticize the state for following the president’s policy.”
Verma said she disagreed with Cuomo’s interpretation of federal guidance, noting that the CMS order also stated that nursing homes should only accept coronavirus-positive patients as long as they can follow certain precautions spelled out by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“Yes, the nursing homes will have COVID positive people … if they are prepared to handle the unique needs of that patient,” Verma said. “Anytime you discharge a patent from the hospital it is the responsibility of the hospital to make sure that the patient is safe when they discharge them.”
It stated that a nursing home can accept a resident diagnosed with COVID-19, as long as the facility can follow CDC guidance for Transmission-Based Precautions. https://t.co/Y8nSvbY1JL
— Administrator Seema Verma (@SeemaCMS) May 21, 2020
Cuomo secretary Melissa DeRosa reiterated Cuomo’s stance that his nursing home order was in line with the federal government’s guidance when asked to respond to Verma’s comments.
“The CDC and CMS put out guidelines on March 13th that DOH drew directly from for the March 25th directive,” DeRosa said. “So, it’s directly in line with the Center for Disease Control, and we believe that in the middle of a pandemic, you should be looking to the national experts for advice, because as the governor said, no one has ever been here before.”
Cuomo touted misleading statistics about nursing home deaths in his state during a press conference Wednesday.
“In general, you look at how New York did, we’re in Washington, you look how New York did on nursing homes vis-a-vis the nation, we did better than 33 states in the nation, per capita on nursing homes,” Cuomo said.
New York is the only state with a large coronavirus outbreak in nursing homes that only reports deaths of nursing home residents who died while physically present at the home, the Daily Caller News Foundation previously reported.
The state used to report coronavirus deaths for all nursing home residents regardless of whether they died at the facility or a hospital, but it quietly changed its criteria between April 28 and May 3, around the time Cuomo began facing scrutiny for the rising fatality rate among nursing home residents in his state.
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Andrew Kerr is a reporter for the Daily Caller News Foundation.