Push for New York nursing residence dying dates worsen | Tennessee Information
ALBANIA – A key Democratic lawmaker said Monday it had “reached the end of my rope” and could use a subpoena to force the Cuomo government to release their data on deaths of nursing home patients from COVID-19.
The blunt statement came from Senator James Skoufis, D-Orange County, who was reappointed as chair of the inquiry committee two weeks ago by Senate Majority Leader Andrew Stewart-Cousins, D-Yonkers.
Health Commissioner Howard Zucker, an agent of Governor Andrew Cuomo, was asked by lawmakers last summer to provide the death information for nursing home patients who died of the virus in the facilities or hospitals.
“It is downright insulting to the equitable state legislation that the Ministry of Health continued to block us on fundamental issues six months later,” said Skoufis.
Cuomo’s proposed health budget will be the subject of a February 3rd hearing. Skoufis said he wants the data by then and swears that the forum on sugar will be “awkward and uncomfortable” if lawmakers don’t get the answers they’re looking for.
Skoufis signaled that he “supports” the preparation of a subpoena, although he indicated that “the decision is not unilateral and requires the support of the conference and leadership”.
There was no immediate comment from the health department. The agency previously indicated that it would need more time to review the data to ensure its accuracy before it is released.
The Empire Center for Public Policy, a conservative think tank, claims in a lawsuit against the state that the state should publish death dates for nursing homes through the Freedom of Information Act.
William Hammond, senior health policy fellow at the Empire Center, said it could take months to get a court order to direct the health department.
According to the state, more than 8,670 COVID-19 deaths have been reported in New York nursing homes and long-term care facilities since last March.
Next week’s health budget hearing sets the table for lawmakers to relaunch their oversight duties to an agency that has an important role in recommending pandemic restrictions and on infection risks in schools, hospitals, businesses and public institutions responds.
Unshackle Upstate, a growth advocacy group that partners with the Nordland Chamber of Commerce, urged lawmakers to protect employers from COVID-19-related lawsuits.
“A wave of legal action against weak companies would adversely affect employers and states’ recovery efforts,” the group said
The decline in infections across the state follows a spread of contagion that rose in late November and continued into the final holiday seasons.
Several GOP lawmakers, led by R-Chautauqua County’s Senator George Borrello, are due to urge the Cuomo government to lift restaurant restrictions at a briefing scheduled for Tuesday.
Joe Mahoney reports on the New York Statehouse for CNHI’s newspapers and websites. Reach him at [email protected]