In April and May, members of the Assembly Minority Conference called on the chairmen of the Committees on Aging, Health and Oversight, Analysis and Investigations to convene hearings to review and investigate New York’s policies, decisions and protocols that were utilized in response to the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on state-regulated nursing home facilities. Recently, those committees announced hearings have been scheduled for August 3 and August 10.
The Assembly and Senate Majorities must now leverage their subpoena power to compel testimony from the governor, the state Department of Health and other officials with knowledge of the March 25 directive which required nursing homes to admit individuals who tested positive for COVID-19.
“We are relieved to hear the Legislature is finally going to take a closer look at Gov. Cuomo’s nursing home directives and procedures during the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s hard to believe it took this long,” said Assembly Minority Leader Will Barclay (R,C,I,Ref-Pulaski). “Despite the governor and the state Department of Health’s internal investigation and report claiming they did nothing wrong and shamelessly pointing fingers elsewhere, clearly, grave mistakes were made. The state’s directives and handling of nursing home deaths during one of the worst pandemics in modern times is alarming and cause for scrutiny.”
“For months, we have been calling for inquiries into this tragedy. Thankfully, the majority conferences in both houses decided to heed our calls for an investigation,” said Assemblyman Kevin Byrne (R,C,Ref-Mahopac), Minority Ranker on the Committee on Health. “It is the Legislature’s job to check the executive’s power, especially as the governor has taken it upon himself to unilaterally dictate the state’s response to the pandemic. Families of the 6,300 individuals who have died in residential health care facilities due to COVID-19 deserve answers. We must learn from this terrible crisis and ensure more effective procedures are in place should we be faced with a similar situation in the future.”
More information about the hearings can be found on the Assembly’s website here. Those interested in providing testimony must submit their requests to the Committee Chairmen, and are kindly asked to provide a copy to Assemblyman Kevin Byrne’s Assembly Office in the Legislative Office Building, Room 318, Albany, New York 12210 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.