House Launches Investigation into COVID-19 Nursing Home Deaths

The U.S. House of Representatives launched an investigation into the coronavirus crisis in nursing homes, sending letters to CMS and the nation’s five largest for-profit nursing home companies.

“The Subcommittee is concerned that lax oversight by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and the federal government’s failure to provide testing supplies and personal protective equipment to nursing homes and long-term care facilities may have contributed to the spread of the coronavirus and the deaths of more than 40,000 Americans in these facilities,” Chairman Clyburn wrote. “Despite CMS’s broad legal authority, the agency has largely deferred to states, local governments, and for-profit nursing homes to respond to the coronavirus crisis.”

“CMS has issued guidance for nursing homes, but this guidance has often been unclear, and CMS failed to take adequate steps to ensure that nursing homes comply with its recommendations. Deregulation and lax enforcement of infection control violations by CMS—both before and during the pandemic—may have contributed to the spread of the virus.”

Chairman Clyburn sent letters to the following for-profit nursing home companies, which collectively operate more than 850 skilled nursing facilities in 40 states, with more than 80,000 residents. Each company has had coronavirus outbreaks across multiple facilities:

  • Genesis HealthCare, the nation’s largest nursing home corporation, has had at least 1,500 deaths in 187 facilities.
  • Life Care Centers of America, whose Kirkland, WA facility was the site of the first major nursing home outbreak in the country, has seen at least 250 deaths across facilities.
  • Ensign Group has had more than 170 deaths across multiple facilities.
  • SavaSeniorCare has reported over 300 deaths, including in an August, GA facility where 98 percent of residents were infected.
  • Consulate Health Care has had more than 60 deaths in multiple outbreaks.

The Subcommittee is seeking documents and information from each company related to coronavirus cases and deaths, testing, personal protective equipment, staffing levels and pay, legal violations, and efforts to prevent further infections.

Click here to read the press release.

Click here to read the letter sent to Genesis HealthCare.