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Lawmakers want DOJ to further probe several states’ actions related to nursing homes amid pandemic

Sen. Chuck Grassley and several other GOP lawmakers are calling for the Justice Department to further look into several states’ actions related to nursing homes amid the coronavirus crisis.

“We commend the Department of Justice (DOJ) for launching an investigation last year into four states’ practices of pressuring nursing homes to admit residents who may have been infected with the COVID-19 virus,” the Republican lawmakers wrote in a letter to Attorney General Merrick Garland. “We urge that you continue to pursue this investigation. We also ask that you explore whether state officials who were the subject of DOJ’s investigation engaged in obstruction of justice or violated rules for participation in Federal programs.”

An August 2020 Justice Department press release said that the DOJ was requesting coronavirus data from several governors and that the department’s civil rights division was considering whether to launch probes “under the federal “Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act” (CRIPA), which protects the civil rights of persons in state-run nursing homes, among others.” That press release said that the DOJ “requested COVID-19 data from the governors of states that issued orders which may have resulted in the deaths of thousands of elderly nursing home residents. New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Michigan required nursing homes to admit COVID-19 patients to their vulnerable populations, often without adequate testing,” the Justice Department said.

In addition to Grassley of Iowa the letter to Garland is also signed by Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina, Sen. Thom Tillis of North Carolina, Sen. Josh Hawley of Missouri and Rep. Steve Scalise of Louisiana.

“Nursing homes remain hotspots for the coronavirus, which is why we ask that DOJ continue to diligently investigate the extent to which four states’ governors violated the civil rights of nursing home residents and failed in their duty of care. We also ask that you investigate whether any such state directives were inconsistent with guidelines or requirements for participation in Federal programs and determine whether there was a coverup or obstruction of justice by public officials who were the subject of DOJ’s investigations,” the lawmakers said in the letter.