78ºF

Michigan lawmakers battle over nursing homes during COVID-19 pandemic

LANSING, Mich. – The sponsor of a bill to change Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s COVID-19 nursing home policies spoke out Saturday.

Whitmer said she vetoed Senate Bill 956 Friday because she believes it would have jeopardized the health of Michigan’s nursing home residents and other COVID-19-positive patients.

COVID-19 patients have been placed in nursing homes with healthy residents since the beginning of the pandemic -- a policy the legislature disagreed. A new policy, sponsored by Sen. Peter J. Lucido, aimed to prohibit the transfer of people who have COVID-19 into nursing homes and long-term care facilities unless a facility was capable of keeping the patients separate.

In June, Whitmer admitted the controversial plan was flawed and would have done things differently if given the chance. She defended the plan and said it was based on the “best science and information available” at the time.

Lucido disagreed with Whitmer’s defense.

“When you’re giving $5,000 more a bed and $200 a day to put sick people in a facility with well people, there is no science or data that supports this nonsense,” Lucido said.

Health officials claim more about one-third of Michigan’s COVID-19 deaths came in nursing homes.

RELATED: Tracking Michigan COVID-19 nursing home cases and deaths

“SB 956 is based on the false premise that isolation units created within existing facilities are somehow insufficient to protect seniors—a claim unsupported by the data and refuted by the nation’s highest authorities on infectious disease,” Whitmer said in her veto letter. “Instead of protecting seniors, this bill would require the state to create COVID-19-only facilities, forcing hospitals and many nursing homes to send COVID-19-positive patients to such facilities without any requirement for consent, doctor approval, or notification to the patient or their family.”

“A lot of people are dead that shouldn’t be,” Lucido said. “Right now, a lot of people have lost loved ones they couldn’t say goodbye to properly.”

Millions of dollars were spent converting facilities into temporary care centers to take patients, like the TCF Center in Detroit. That plan was put on hold in May and TCF Center officials claim the venue is available if needed.

“Take a look at the votes in the senate and the house,” Lucido said. “This is a bipartisan supported package.”

The legislature resumes is session this week and Lucido said he wants to see override votes in the house and senate.

More coronavirus news:


About the Authors: