HARRISBURG – House Majority Leader Kerry Benninghoff (R-Centre/Mifflin) announced Monday afternoon that when the House returns to session, he will be referring an investigation of the Wolf administration’s handling of nursing homes and other senior and long-term care facilities during the COVID-19 pandemic to the House Government Oversight Committee.
As has been shown during recent House Appropriations Committee budget hearings, and relentless questions from the press, it is apparent that the Wolf administration is not being transparent and cannot answer some of the most basic questions concerned families have had during this pandemic.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, roughly half of all Pennsylvania COVID-19 deaths are attributable to nursing homes. Nearly a year into the global pandemic, data reporting remains conflicting and incomplete and questions remain about a Department of Health order requiring nursing home readmissions from hospitals of COVID-19-positive patients, among other things.
“We believe Pennsylvanians deserve better from their government when they are seeking answers as to why something so tragic has occurred and they are not getting answers,” Benninghoff said. “Unfortunately, as of today, including our recent budget hearings where members directly asked the administration about this issue, Pennsylvanians and their families are left only with excuses and deflection from an administration that has been anything but transparent.”
Rep. Natalie Mihalek (R-Allegheny/Washington) discussed her frustrations with the administration’s lack of transparency when she questioned Acting Health Secretary Alison Beam about the administration’s handling of nursing homes during a recent House Appropriations Committee budget hearing.
“We’ve been looking for answers for our citizens for almost a year now,” Mihalek said. “The Wolf administration claims transparency is their No. 1 priority, yet provide us with no clarity behind their decisions. Our citizens deserve better.”
Rep. Clint Owlett (R-Tioga/Bradford/Potter) noted this review is necessary for the hundreds of Pennsylvania families still waiting for answers.
“We want answers for the people who lost loved ones in our nursing homes under Secretary Levine’s order and Governor Wolf’s leadership. The problem has been, no one will step up and do the investigation here in Pennsylvania. So, if no one else will do it for these families, we will,” Owlett said. “So many never got to say goodbye. We cannot bring these lives back. We cannot fix the wrong that was done. But we can learn from this and make sure it never happens again. I look forward to finally getting the answers we all deserve.”
Background: According to Rule 45(A) of the Pennsylvania House Rules, the Pennsylvania House Majority Leader can refer investigations to the House Government Oversight Committee. The House Government Oversight Committee is comprised of five Republicans and four Democrats and has subpoena power to compel documents and witnesses.