Michigan Health Care Association pushes back on nursing home deaths report

Association says multiple factors can cause issues in counting deaths

The numbers can get confusing, which we're hearing in the pushback against the Auditor General's Nursing Home deaths report. The Auditor General's counts are 8061 deaths total between Jan. 1, 2020, and July 1, 2021. Michigan Department of Health and Human Services says that the number is 5675, a 2386 difference.

There is new pushback against Michigan’s Auditor General’s nursing home deaths report.

The Health Care Association of Michigan, which represents the state’s nursing homes, is saying it is very likely the nursing home deaths report it put out Friday is inaccurate. They claim there are multiple factors that caused the issues.

Read: Did Michigan undercount COVID deaths in long-term care facilities? MDHHS director says no

The Auditor General’s count is 8,061 deaths total between January 1, 2020 and July 1, 2021. Michigan Department of Health and Human Services said the number is 5,675.

As the pandemic caught hold in Michigan, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer was one of five governors nationwide who placed COVID-positive nursing home patients in the same facilities as COVID-negative patients. It was a controversial policy that was later ended.

Read: Michigan disputes Auditor General’s count of long-term care COVID deaths

Michigan officials claimed early on it was not keeping the numbers on deaths in nursing homes and could not produce them when Freedom of Information requests were sent.

More than a year later, the Auditor General’s report puts that number at more than 8,000. The Health Care Association of Michigan has sided with MDHHS.

The organization said it is possible that inconsistencies will appear when examining and comparing different databases or sources that might contain information on the location of COVID deaths.

It listed more than half a dozen reasons that the Auditor General could have missed the mark including time frames used in reporting systems and data transferred between those symptoms. It said reporting protocols and technical problems within the nursing home reporting system could have led to inaccurately posted information.

The association also said the cause of death listed on a death certificate may not align with an earlier cause of death determination. In the end, the association said it is likely impossible to get a truly accurate count.

Read: Complete Michigan COVID coverage

About the Authors:

Rod Meloni is an Emmy Award-winning Business Editor on Local 4 News and a Certified Financial Planner™ Professional.

Kayla is a Web Producer for ClickOnDetroit. Before she joined the team in 2018 she worked at WILX in Lansing as a digital producer.