Runestad bill would fund special investigator into administration’s nursing home policies

LANSING, Mich. — Sen. Jim Runestad introduced legislation Thursday that would fund a special investigator to look into the Whitmer administration’s COVID-19 nursing home policies.

Senate Bill 338 would designate funding for the purpose of investigating the nursing home policies implemented by the Whitmer administration as well as the data and all of the subdata beyond just total numbers of deaths, including the numbers of cases and deaths attributed to transferring patients to and from hospitals, and whether patients died in the hospital or the long-term care facility.

“The administration’s executive orders put COVID-19-positive patients into the same facilities as our most vulnerable,” said Runestad, R-White Lake. “Forty-five other states decided against this dangerous policy. But the Whitmer administration ignored early warnings from health care experts, such as the Health Care Association of Michigan in early March, and our seniors paid the price.

“We owe it to the families of nursing home residents to learn the truth about how this happened, why it was allowed to happen, and why the administration refuses to provide nursing home COVID-19 data. We need to fund a special investigator to get to the bottom of things and get answers for grieving families.”

The measure comes days after Attorney General Dana Nessel denied a request by Runestad and seven other members of the Michigan Senate to investigate the administration’s handling of pandemic policies in the state’s long-term care policies.

“If our attorney general refuses to do the right thing and investigate, then someone else is going to have to do it,” Runestad said. “Inaction and protecting political allies are apparently more important to our attorney general than standing up for the victims and their families.

“In New York, their attorney general did the right thing and found the truth. That’s what we need to happen for the families here in Michigan.”

The one-time appropriation would designate $250,000 for a special investigator to be placed under the Michigan Legislative Council. Specifically, the investigator would be appointed to investigate the long-term care and residential care facility policies implemented by the governor and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, and the reported data on infection and transmission rates, tracking, tracing, and number of deaths associated with these facilities during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This should not be about politics,” Runestad said. “It should not be about Republicans versus Democrats. It should be about doing the right thing and standing up for grieving Michigan families.”

SB 338 has been referred to the Senate Appropriations Committee for consideration.

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