Whitmer takes heat from Congress over nursing home policy

Posted at 5:40 PM, Jun 02, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-02 17:40:29-04

(LANSING) WXYZ) — During three hours of testimony before a Congressional subcommittee, Governor Whitmer was repeatedly questioned by lawmakers over her controversial policy allowing COVID-19 patients to be discharged into nursing homes.

Joined by the governors of Colorado and Arkansas, Whitmer was invited to speak about Michigan's response to the Coronavirus pandemic.

But from nearly the beginning of today's hearing, Republicans took aim at Whitmer who has been on presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden’s shortlist of running mates since April.

Rep. Tim Wahberg, R-Michigan, pressed Whitmer to defend her policy, which has come under fire as the number of nursing home deaths in Michigan has steadily grown. At least 1,654 COVID-19 deaths have taken places in nursing homes, the fifth highest total in the nation.

“Why did it take you so long to change the policy?” Walberg said.

Whitmer insisted her policy was developed after consulting medical experts across the country, but acknowledged shortcomings.

“We recognize that of course, in retrospect, probably a number of decisions we would have made some adjustment in,” she said.

Whitmer insisted that no nursing homes were required to accept COVID-19 patients but added that, last month, her office revised the policy to require that only facilities that can safely separate positive patients are allowed to take them in.

“We have taken efforts to ensure that if a resident after being discharged with COVID-19 diagnosis was going back to a nursing home, that they are separated, that the protocols are very strict,” she said.