Politifact says Cuomo's NY nursing home policy claim blaming Trump admin is 'mostly false'

Politifact gave Democratic New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo a "mostly false" rating over his claim that his controversial nursing home policy was put in place due to guidelines from the Trump administration.

Early on during the coronavirus outbreak, Cuomo received praise from the media and from many within his party over his state's response to the pandemic. However, in recent weeks, there has being growing scrutiny over his reversal of a March 25 order that forced nursing homes to accept patients who tested positive for coronavirus, despite testing deficiencies for both residents and staff. Cuomo signed an executive order on May 11 stopping hospitals from sending infected patients back to nursing homes and ramping up testing for staff.

Roughly 6,000 people have died from COVID-19 in nursing homes in New York. Approximately 20 percent of all deaths in the state have occurred in nursing homes.

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During his May 20 news conference, Cuomo suggested he was following federal guidance when he enacted that deadly nursing home order when asked about the calls for a federal probe in how the state handled its senior living facilities.

"I'm not going to get into the political back-and-forth, but anyone who wants to ask, why did the state do that with COVID patients in nursing homes? It’s because the state followed President Trump’s CDC guidance," Cuomo responded.

Politifact outlined the CDC guidance, which pointed to two "key factors" regarding COVID-19 patients in nursing homes that were in place two days before Cuomo enacted the order: "First, is the patient medically ready for discharge to a long-term care facility? And second, is the selected long-term care facility able to safely care for a patient recovering from the virus by implementing all recommended infection control procedures?"

Seema Verma, the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) administrator, pointed Politifact to a March 13 document which said nursing homes should only accept COVID-19 patients if they can care for them.

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The Cuomo administration told Politico that its ongoing nursing home policy prior to the virus outbreak was that facilities should only accept patients if they can provide the care.

"This is business in a nursing home: Take them if you can care for them," NY Department of Health spokesperson Gary Holmes said.

The political fact-checker, however, didn't buy Cuomo's claim.

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"The Cuomo administration points to state and federal regulations that predate the pandemic, which require facilities to accept only those patients they can care for. In addition, earlier state communications encouraged nursing homes to stay current with CDC guidance," Politifact explained. "But once the state issued its March 25 advisory, nursing home operators said that they felt they had no choice but to accept residents who were either known to be infected or suspected to be. That’s because the March 25 memo did not say anything about making sure that a nursing home can care for a patient before making an admission decision, and said they 'must comply with the expedited receipt of residents.' In the month following the memo, nursing homes pleaded for relief from the order."

It concluded, "We rate his statement Mostly False."