Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) is reorganizing agencies providing services to the elderly, as an auditor general report on coronavirus-related nursing home deaths looms.
The new Michigan Health and Aging Services Administration will reportedly provide better communication between agencies with the goal of increasing efficiency.
ABC 12 reported:
Whitmer announced the new Health and Aging Services Administration on Thursday, which combines the former Aging and Adult Services Agency and Medical Services Administration. She said the move will create more collaboration on programs targeting aging adults.
“Older Michiganders deserve to be treated with dignity and respect and by dedicating resources at the state level, we can ensure they have the resources they need to have a secure retirement, access to high-quality healthcare, attainable, affordable housing, and more,” Whitmer claimed. Those 60 and older comprise 25 percent of the state’s population, according to MLive.
While Whitmer claimed that elderly individuals “deserve to be treated with dignity and respect,” state Auditor General Doug Ringler is investigating the number of nursing home deaths created after Whitmer ordered virus-positive patients into those facilities to recuperate.
Previously, a report from journalist Charlie LeDuff claimed that the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) did “not do a thorough job of scrubbing vital records to determine whether people who died of Covid were nursing home residents, as its own guidelines require.”
Furthermore, the report “found that DHHS did conduct a limited review of those vital records last summer, and found that 44 percent could be traced to nursing homes.”
“This alarming report is just the latest example of the failed leadership of Gretchen Whitmer and her administration that continues to make lives more difficult for Michiganders,” said RGA Spokesperson Chris Gustafson at the time. “Every day that goes by Whitmer does more to earn herself the title ‘Andrew Cuomo of the Midwest’, and these allegations must be investigated.”
In June, the state legislature requested Ringler analyze the data released by the state to ensure it was accurate.
“We will be working with various departments’ databases to address your concerns, which will impact the timing of our work,” Ringler wrote to the House Oversight Committee upon the request, the Detroit News reported.
The committee asked Ringler to produce a “comprehensive study of reported and unreported deaths in long-term care facilities.”
“I am confident that the Auditor General will provide us with a more accurate picture of the deadly results of Gov. Whitmer’s decision to place COVID positive patients in long-term care facilities,” committee chairman state Rep. Steve Johnson (R) told the paper.
When testifying in June, state Department of Health and Human Services Director Elizabeth Hertel conceded the state’s death count “could be” low.
It is not clear when Ringler’s report will be released.
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Cooper Moran is a reporter for The Star News Network. Follow Cooper on Twitter. Email tips to [email protected].