clearn.png
Tuesday July 14th, 2020 2:38AM

Harrowing blame game over COVID-19 toll in nursing homes

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

WASHINGTON (AP) — A grim blame game with partisan overtones is breaking out over COVID-19 deaths among nursing home residents, a tiny slice of the population that represents a shockingly high proportion of Americans who have perished in the pandemic.

The Trump administration has been pointing to a segment of the industry — facilities with low federal ratings for infection control — and to some Democratic governors who required nursing homes to take recovering coronavirus patients.

Homes that followed federal infection control guidelines were largely able to contain the virus, asserts Seema Verma, head of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, or CMS, which sets standards and pays the bills. “Trying to finger-point and blame the federal government is absolutely ridiculous,” she says.

Verma says data collected by her agency suggest a connection between low ratings on safety inspections and COVID-19 outbreaks. But several academic researchers say their own work has found no such link.

Advocates for older people say the federal government hasn’t provided needed virus testing and sufficient protective gear to allow nursing homes to operate safely. A White House directive to test all residents and staff has been met with an uneven response.

“The lack of federal coordination certainly has impeded facilities' ability to identify infected persons and to provide care,” Eric Carlson, a long-term care expert with the advocacy group Justice in Aging, told lawmakers.

Democrats are critical of the Trump administration.

"We need a plan from CMS and we need resources to stop the spread of COVID-19 in nursing homes,” says Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa.

Nationwide, more than 45,500 residents and staff have died from coronavirus outbreaks at nursing homes and other long-term care facilities, according to a running count by The Associated Press. That's about 40% of more than 115,000 total deaths. Nursing home residents are less than 1% of the U.S. population.

It's a sensitive election year issue for President Donald Trump, who's trying to hang on to support from older voters.

With more coronavirus legislation possible this year, congressional Democrats are pressing for a national testing plan and additional resources for nursing homes. Republicans are mainly seconding the administration's arguments.

During a recent briefing for lawmakers, Rep. Steve Scalise of Louisiana, the No. 2 House Republican, blamed New York Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo for the high numbers of deaths in his state. A since-rescinded state directive that nursing homes had to accept recovering coronavirus patients “ended up being a death sentence” in New York and several states with similar policies, Scalise said.

On Monday, Scalise sent letters to Cuomo and the Democratic governors of California, Michigan, New Jersey and Pennsylvania demanding they justify their policy.

He echoed earlier, less forceful, comments from CMS head Verma, who has said state orders requiring nursing homes to take recovering COVID patients were “not appropriate” and “may have contributed to this issue as well.”

But Harvard researcher David Grabowski, who serves on a nonpartisan commission advising Congress about Medicare, says neither state policies, nor “bad apples” among nursing homes, have driven the outbreak.

Instead, Grabowski says it's simpler: Because the virus can be spread by people who show no symptoms, that means if it's already in a community, the staff can unwittingly bring it into the nursing home. Once inside it easily spreads among frail residents living in close quarters.

“The secret weapon behind COVID is that is spreads in the absence of any symptoms,” Grabowski told lawmakers at a recent briefing. “If COVID is in a community where staff lives, it is soon to be in the facility where they work.”

He proposed a federal effort to regularly test nursing home staff and residents, along with greater supplies of masks, gowns and other protective gear.

“The federal government needs to own this issue,” said Grabowski.

He said his own research, along with studies by experts at Brown University and the University of Chicago did not find a relationship between facilities with low federal ratings and COVID-19 outbreaks.

CMS head Verma said her agency has been on top of things from the beginning, issuing numerous safety guidelines, setting new coronavirus reporting requirements, and providing Medicare payment for testing residents. She says states have money from the federal government that they can use to support testing of nursing home staff.

The nursing home industry says just one-time testing for every resident and staffer would cost $440 million.

Rep. James Clyburn of South Carolina, the third-ranking House Democrat and chairman of a special panel on the pandemic, says the crisis in nursing homes should not be a partisan issue.

"Nursing home residents have died from the coronavirus in states governed by Republicans and Democrats, in big cities and in small towns, in rural and urban communities," Clyburn said.

Appearing before Clyburn's committee last week, Alison Lolley of Monroe, Louisiana., told of losing her 81-year-old mother, Cheryl, to COVID-19 in a nursing home outbreak this spring. The family was not allowed to be with her.

"My family was robbed,” Lolley said. “Mama was trapped in a petri dish, and we were shut out. Mama died alone and our family will forever be scarred by this tragedy.”

___

AP investigative researcher Randy Herschaft in New York contributed to this report.

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP National News, AP Online National News, Top General short headlines, AP Online Headlines - Washington, AP Online Congress News, AP Health, AP Business, AP Health - Senior Health, AP Business - Industries, AP Business - Health Care
© Copyright 2020 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
EU urges US to join new Mideast peace effort
European Union foreign ministers want the United States to join them in a new effort to breathe life into long-stalled peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians
12:59PM ( 1 minute ago )
Harrowing blame game over COVID-19 toll in nursing homes
A harrowing blame game with partisan overtones is breaking out over COVID-19 deaths among nursing home residents
12:46PM ( 14 minutes ago )
UK's leader creates anti-racism panel; critics want more
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson will establish a commission to look at racial equality in the U.K. The move comes two weeks of protests spurred by the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis by police
12:42PM ( 18 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
'We've missed it': Long lines form outside shops in England
Long lines formed along streets and snaked around blocks across England as shops selling fashion, toys and other nonessential items welcomed customers back for the first time since the U.K. was put into lockdown in late March
12:13PM ( 47 minutes ago )
Drake tops BET Awards nods; show to air on CBS for 1st time
Drake is the leading nominee at the 2020 BET Awards, which will celebrate its 20th anniversary later this month
12:03PM ( 57 minutes ago )
Sheriff apologizes to black pastor in Virginia after arrest
A sheriff in Virginia has apologized to a black pastor who was arrested after calling 911 on a group of white people who now face hate crime and assault charges
11:48AM ( 1 hour ago )
AP National News
Supreme Court rejects several gun rights cases for next term
The Supreme Court has passed up several challenges to state and federal gun control laws, over the dissent of two conservative justices
9:57AM ( 3 hours ago )
American sentenced to 16 years in Russia on spying charges
An American has been sentenced to 16 years in prison by a Russian court on spying charges
8:39AM ( 4 hours ago )
Grim blame game over virus deaths in besieged nursing homes
A grim blame game with partisan overtones is breaking out over COVID-19 deaths among nursing home residents
8:05AM ( 4 hours ago )
AP Online National News
Senate GOP to restrict police chokeholds in emerging bill
Senate Republicans are poised to unveil an ambitious package of policing changes that includes new restrictions on police chokeholds and other practices
9:35AM ( 3 hours ago )
Toys, books and clothes: Stores reopen doors across England
After three months of being closed under coronavirus restrictions, shops selling fashion, toys and other non-essential goods are being allowed to reopen across England for the first time since the country went into lockdown in March
5:11AM ( 7 hours ago )
Some tribes reopen their casinos despite state opposition
Some federally recognized tribes have pushed ahead with plans to reopen their casinos despite opposition from governors who have little to no say in the matter
3:11AM ( 9 hours ago )
Top General short headlines
Justices reject Trump bid to void California sanctuary law
The Supreme Court has rejected the Trump administration’s bid to throw out a California immigrant-sanctuary law that limits local police cooperation with federal immigration authorities
11:32AM ( 1 hour ago )
Hong Kong delegate hoping for stability with security law
Hong Kong’s sole delegate to China’s top legislative body says many Hong Kong residents support a new national security law being imposed by Beijing in the hopes that it will help the city regain stability, despite concerns that it will be used to curb opposition in the semi-autonomous Chinese territory
10:57AM ( 2 hours ago )
Justices revive permit for pipeline under Appalachian Trail
The Supreme Court is siding with energy companies and the Trump administration in reinstating a permit for a proposed natural gas pipeline that would cross under the Appalachian Trail
10:54AM ( 2 hours ago )
AP Online Headlines - Washington
Tenants behind on rent in pandemic face harassment, eviction
The coronavirus pandemic has shut housing courts and prompted most states and federal authorities to initiate policies protecting renters from eviction
4:22PM ( 20 hours ago )
Yankee go home: What does moving troops out of Germany mean?
For more than a year, President Donald Trump has issued thinly veiled threats that the United States could start pulling troops out of Germany unless the country increases its defense spending to NATO standards
8:32AM ( 1 day ago )
Far-right activists protest in London despite warnings
Hundreds of far-right activists have scuffled with police in central London’s Parliament Square
9:57AM ( 2 days ago )
AP Online Congress News
The Latest: 4 Kenya presidential staff are COVID-19 positive
Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta’s office says four people who work at the presidential residence have tested positive for COVID-19
11:05AM ( 1 hour ago )
Germany to take stake in company working on virus vaccine
The German government says it is taking a 23% stake in CureVac, a German company working on a potential vaccine for the coronavirus, underlining its determination to keep key industries in the country
9:04AM ( 3 hours ago )
UN atomic watchdog head calls for more access in Iran
The head of the United Nations’ atomic watchdog agency says Iran must provide inspectors access to sites where the country is thought to have stored or used undeclared nuclear material
8:07AM ( 4 hours ago )
AP Health
EU, UK leaders agree 'new momentum' needed in Brexit talks
The U.K. and the European Union says a “new momentum” is required in their post-Brexit discussions to find a compromise on a future trade deal
11:36AM ( 1 hour ago )
Auto workers chief, prosecutor to discuss reforming union
The head of the United Auto Workers will meet this month with the U.S. attorney in Detroit to discuss potential changes for the union following a wide-ranging corruption probe
11:23AM ( 1 hour ago )
Belarusian authorities raid Russia-owned bank
Belarusian authorities have taken control of a Russia-owned commercial bank that was led by a man who is now running to challenge Belarus’ authoritarian president
11:23AM ( 1 hour ago )
AP Business
Amid tears and laughter, visits resume in nursing homes
In-person visits to nursing homes are resuming in Massachusetts and other states with masks, social distancing — and plenty of tears and laughter
6:57PM ( 4 days ago )
Outcry as some nursing homes try to grab stimulus checks
Some nursing homes are demanding that low-income Medicaid recipients hand over their $1,200 stimulus checks from the government — and lawmakers want to halt the cash grab
6:01PM ( 5 days ago )
South America's reopening and US protests could spread virus
South American countries at the epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic are choosing to reopen even as case numbers rise, ignoring the example set by Europe in which nations waited for the worst to pass
2:50AM ( 1 week ago )
AP Health - Senior Health
Energy producer BP takes $17.5 billion hit as demand slides
Energy company BP says it is writing off up to $17.5 billion from its oil and gas assets
4:35AM ( 8 hours ago )
The Latest: India may use train cars for virus patient beds
India’s home minister has offered 500 railway carriages for use as makeshift coronavirus hospital wards as the capital New Delhi struggles to contain a spike in cases
2:57AM ( 10 hours ago )
The Latest: India may use train carriages for virus beds
India’s home minister has offered 500 railway carriages for use as makeshift coronavirus hospital wards as the capital New Delhi struggles to contain a spike in cases
1:38AM ( 11 hours ago )
AP Business - Industries
The Latest: European nations sign 400M-dose vaccine deal
Pharma giant AstraZeneca has struck a deal with Europe’s Inclusive Vaccines Alliance to supply up to 400 million doses of an experimental COVID-19 vaccine
11:45AM ( 2 days ago )
The Latest: India surpasses 300,000 cases with another spike
India has reported another record daily spike in coronavirus infections as the country passes the grim milestone of 300,000 cases
3:52AM ( 2 days ago )
Asia Today: India's virus cases now 4th highest in world
India’s coronavirus caseload is now the fourth-largest in the world, overtaking Britain
8:16AM ( 3 days ago )
AP Business - Health Care
UK's leader creates anti-racism panel; critics want more
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson will establish a commission to look at racial equality in the U.K. The move comes two weeks of protests spurred by the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis by police
12:42PM ( 18 minutes ago )
EU official criticizes Polish campaign targeting LGBT people
A senior European Union official has criticized a campaign by Polish authorities against the LGBT rights movement during a close presidential election campaign and said it was wrong to target minorities for political gain
12:38PM ( 22 minutes ago )
Doyle out as Iowa strength coach after mistreatment claims
Chris Doyle is out as Iowa’s football strength and conditioning coach
12:33PM ( 27 minutes ago )
US revokes emergency use of malaria drugs vs. coronavirus
U.S. regulators are revoking emergency authorization for malaria drugs promoted by President Donald Trump for treating COVID-19
12:33PM ( 28 minutes ago )
Poll: Black Americans most likely to know a COVID-19 victim
African Americans are disproportionately likely to say a family member or close friend has died of COVID-19 or respiratory illness since March
12:29PM ( 31 minutes ago )