ALBANY, N.Y. (WTEN) — A bill to create a temporary commission to study and investigate nursing home COVID-19 deaths in New York has passed out of the Senate Health Committee. The bill is being sponsored by Senator Jim Tedisco and Assemblyman Ron Kim.
This comes after more than 15,000 people lost their lives in nursing homes due to COVID. On March 25, 2020, a Cuomo-administration directive placed COVID-positive patients into nursing homes, and it wasn’t reversed for weeks.
A New York State Comptroller’s Office audit from March 16 said that the state undercounted nursing home COVID deaths. The audit also said that the New York State Department of Health was unprepared to respond to the pandemic.
This legislation would create a commission for an independent, bi-partisan investigation with subpoena power into the Cuomo/Hochul Administration’s handling of the pandemic as it relates to nursing homes. The bill now moves to the Senate Finance Committee for consideration before it goes to the Senate for a vote.
Tedisco said the commission would consist of five members: one each appointed by the Senate Majority Leader, Senate Minority Leader, Assembly Speaker, and Assembly Minority Leader, and chaired by an appointee of the New York State Attorney General. Each appointee must have expertise in health care and health care policy issues.
Commission members would not be paid and they would have subpoena power. A report would be publicly issued and sent to the Legislature with findings and recommendations, according to Tedisco.
“We remember that every life lost was more than just a statistic, these individuals were someone’s spouse, parent, grandparent, and sibling and they deserve justice,” said Tedisco.