House Ways and Means Committee Ranking Republican Mike Kelly of Pennsylvania believes he and four colleagues aren’t getting copies of monthly nursing home data because state and federal officials have something to hide.
“I don’t know how many times you have to send letters and make requests for data and get no response at all,” Kelly told The Epoch Times in a March 31 interview. “Usually when you ask a question and they don’t give you an answer, it’s because they don’t want to give you an answer.
“And the reason probably they don’t want to give you an answer is it may be harmful to them, but that doesn’t help us making decisions going forward.”
Kelly said he is especially concerned about his home state because of revelations and subsequent investigations concerning New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and his aides allegedly covering up data showing more than twice as many people died in nursing homes that Cuomo ordered to accept CCP virus patients.
Cuomo’s policy came early in the national pandemic that began in March 2020 and required New York nursing homes to accept as residents stabilized patients suffering from the virus. The goal was to free up hospital beds for an expected crush of incoming patients.
The FBI is now investigating if Cuomo failed to report accurately how many nursing home deaths were attributable to the virus. Critics in Michigan, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and California have pointed to similarities with Cuomo’s approach among those states, all of whom have Democratic governors.
“In Pennsylvania, and only because of Gov. [Andrew] Cuomo’s many problems, Gov. [Tom] Wolf’s gets overlooked. It’s the same policy, New York and Pennsylvania are almost identical in their policies,” Kelly said.
“The only problem is we can’t look at the data, we can’t get the data and because of that we have real concerns that something is going on that should not be going on,” he explained.
Kelly was referring to monthly data reported by nursing homes to the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) from May 2020 to the present concerning deaths of residents due to the CCP Virus that causes the disease COVID-19.
In a March 24, 2021, letter to Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) Xavier Beccara, Kelly and four other GOP members of the ways and means panel requested copies of all the reports from the five states, which pursued similar policies regarding CCP Virus patients and nursing homes.
“We continue to be concerned about policy decisions in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic regarding nursing homes and about whether certain states, including New York and Pennsylvania among others, may have intentionally misled the public and perhaps the federal government regarding COVID-19 related deaths in those facilities,” the signers told Becerra.
In addition to Kelly, the signers included Rep. Kevin Brady (R-Texas), the top Republican on the panel, Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), the ranking GOP member of the panel’s health subcommittee, and panel members Rep. Tom Reed (R-N.Y.) and Rep. Lloyd Smucker (R-Pa.).
Kelly, Brady, Nunes and Smucker also wrote to Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro, a Democrat, in a March 24 letter concerning the data for that state and the lack of response to their request to then-Pennsylvania Secretary of Health Rachel Levine for the data.
“You are likely aware of recent public reports about the state of New York’s effort to intentionally hide accurate data from the public and potentially from the federal government,” the four signers told Shapiro.
“Given that context and the missing Pennsylvania data, we are concerned that there may be a concerted effort in the state to conceal the true scope of COVID-19 related nursing home deaths. Perhaps something else explains the missing data, but we have yet to receive satisfactory answers for why the data remains missing,” the signers wrote.
Levine was nominated as Assistant HHS Secretary by President Joe Biden and confirmed by the Senate. During her confirmation hearing, Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) asked Levine about the missing data.
“There is a lag-time from the time a tragic death would occur to the time it hits the electronic reporting system,” Levine told Collins during the Feb. 25, 2021, hearing before the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions.
The Pennsylvania controversy has generated local media coverage, with 11 News television reporter Angie Moreschi in Spotlight, Pennsylvania reminding viewers March 19 that she had previously “reported on issues with missing and incomplete COVID data in Pennsylvania nursing homes throughout the pandemic.
“Frequent checks of the state’s data on long term care facilities showed dozens of facilities reporting ‘no data’ all the way back to May of last year, when the state first started posting the information. In the most recent report, 138 out of the state’s 693 facilities reported ‘no data.’”
Kelly told The Epoch Times that “when you don’t receive data that you’ve requested in a timely fashion, it’s no longer relevant. And if you don’t have any data moving forward to compare and looking backward as to what your policy should be and what changes should be made, it makes it impossible to develop policy, you just can’t do it.”
The Pennsylvania congressman added that his “real question for Pennsylvania all along has been how long are you going to accept the fact, or maybe just not disclose the fact that you never had any data to begin with, but you chose to use a different way of delivering a message, not based on the data you had in your hand but the message you wanted to put out that you couldn’t back up with data,” Kelly said.
Congressional correspondent Mark Tapscott may be contacted at email@example.com
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