The Department of Justice has decided not to investigate whether the civil rights of residents in New York’s government-run nursing homes were violated by Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s controversial admission policy related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
In a letter Friday, the DOJ’s Office of Legislative Affairs told US Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.), ranking member of that House Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis, that New York was off the hook in connection with potential violations of the Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act.
In August, the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division requested information from New York in connection with a March 25, 2020, order from the state Department of Health that required nursing homes to admit “medically stable” COVID-19 patients discharged from hospitals.
It also sought records from Pennsylvania, Michigan and New Jersey, which adopted similar rules that the DOJ said “may have resulted in the deaths of thousands of elderly nursing home residents.”
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The Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division will not be launching investigations into nursing homes in New York and other states whose governors forced facilities to admit COVID-19 patients despite their vulnerable populations, the agency informed GOP lawmakers Friday.
However, an investigation by federal prosecutors into New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and his administration over their handling of the crisis remains ongoing.
In a letter to House Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis ranking member Rep. Steve Scalise, R-La., Deputy Assistant Attorney General Joe Gaeta wrote that the agency’s Civil Rights Division has “decided not to open a [Civil Rights of Institutional Persons Act] investigation of any public nursing home facility within New York, Pennsylvania, or Michigan at this time” after reviewing information sent to them by the respective states.
The decision appeared to be a measure of good news for Cuomo, and likely better news for Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf and Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, who like Cuomo are Democrats.
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