Campaign donations of over a million dollars from a hospital trade association may have been behind New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s infamous nursing home order, resulting in thousands of deaths.
In September 2020, the Wall Street Journal reported that the Greater New York Hospital Association (GNHA) — the hospital and health-system trade group that is one of the most influential forces in New York politics — gave Cuomo the idea for his March 25, 2020 order. The order decreed that “no resident shall be denied readmission or admission to a nursing home solely based on a confirmed or suspected diagnosis of COVID-19. Nursing homes are prohibited from requiring a hospitalized resident who is determined medically stable to be tested for COVID-19 before admission or readmission.” As a result of the order, an estimated 14,00 deaths of seniors in nursing homes occurred.
Thanks to the Cuomo-approved decree, GNHA hospitals got out of treating the most serious coronavirus patients. Instead, nursing homes were forced to become Petri dishes for growing and spreading the virus. Another report claims this wasn’t the first reward to the hospital association provided by the governor.
A few weeks after the Journal report appeared, the New York Post published the results of an exclusive audit of campaign donations to Cuomo by the watchdog website Open the Books, which explained that the governor’s rewards to the GNHA began way before coronavirus began to infect the state.
As the pandemic began to spread across the country, in February 2020 Cuomo appointed GNHA board member Michael Dowling and union President Dennis Rivera to co-chair the Medicaid Redesign Team. Those who believe in coincidences may believe Dowling’s $5,000 donation to Cuomo and the union’s $15,000 donation given just six weeks before their appointment had nothing to do with their new state positions.
Then in March, “despite warnings from doctors that the move represented ‘a clear and present danger’ to other nursing home residents,” Cuomo issued his directive. Even as he sent seniors to their deaths, the hospital beds in the emergency hospital created at the Javits Center and the USN Hospital Ship Comfort hospital went unused.
While Cuomo’s March 25 order wasn’t the sole cause of the increased COVID-19 deaths in nursing homes, it was a major contributing factor. There is no definitive smoking gun proof that Cuomo’s order was a quid pro quo. But the circumstantial evidence makes the order smell rancid. Hopefully, the investigation promised by the New York attorney general will investigate these charges and, if proven, send the “Love gov” to prison.
Cross-posted at The Lid