Whether intentional or not, the phrase “one hand washes the other” comes to mind in response to the news that before New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo granted immunity to nursing home executives, a massive campaign donation switched hands.
Cuomo signed legislation in April granting immunity to hospital and nursing home executives from the threat of lawsuits stemming from the coronavirus outbreak — a move taken in a number of other states, as well.
The Guardian reported this week that the lobbying group Greater New York Hospital Association donated more than $1 million dollars to the New York State Democratic Committee, which was behind the governor’s primary run in 2018.
In addition, three of the hospital association’s top officials separately gave more than $150,000 to Cuomo’s campaign between 2015 and 2018, the British paper added.
To be clear, some of the hospitals represented by the association own nursing homes.
What’s more, the legislation Gov. Cuomo signed was drafted by the Greater New York Hospital Association, WABC-TV reported.
New York has reported around 5,800 confirmed or presumed deaths at nursing homes and adult care facilities — a fifth of the nation’s known nursing home and long-term care deaths, according to the ABC affiliate.
The state had “at least seven facilities with outbreaks of 40 deaths or more, including one home in Manhattan that reported 98,” the station noted.
The Democratic governor is taking some fire for a March 25 order requiring nursing homes to take in COVID-19 patients — at least, as much fire as can be expected from a complicit media.
Cuomo essentially overrode the order after the brutal results, issuing a new directive on May 10 that stated hospitals cannot send patients back to nursing homes unless they tested negative for the virus.
The immunity law, which was tucked into the state’s budget, says that top officials at hospital and nursing home companies “shall have immunity from any liability, civil or criminal, for any harm or damages alleged to have been sustained as a result of an act or omission in the course of arranging for or providing healthcare services” to address the pandemic.
His administration also moved to get in front of any criticism over the decision to enact the measure.
“It was a decision made on the merits to help ensure we had every available resource to save lives,” senior Cuomo advisor Rich Azzopardi said at the time. “Suggesting any other motivation is simply grotesque.”
The indignant aide stood by the legislation in a statement to The Guardian.
“This pandemic remains an unprecedented public health crisis and we had to realign New York’s entire healthcare system, using every type of facility to prepare for the surge, and recruiting more than 96,000 volunteers – 25,000 from out of state, to help fight this virus,” Azzopardi said. “These volunteers are good samaritans and what was passed by 111 members of the legislature was an expansion of the existing Good Samaritan Law to apply to the emergency that coronavirus created. If we had not done this, these volunteers wouldn’t have been accepted and we never would have had enough frontline healthcare workers.”
“This law was intended to increase capacity and provide quality care,” he added, “And any suggestion otherwise is simply outrageous.”
Author: Tom Tillison