State Attorney General Josh Shapiro declines looking into Pa. nursing home numbers

CHAMBERSBURG — A recent report from the Wall Street Journal said the FBI and US Attorney’s office will be looking into the situation in New York about under-reporting deaths in nursing homes. It begs the question, what was happening in nursing homes in Pa.?

According to State Representative Paul Schemel, who joined Pat Ryan and Michele Jansen on News Talk 103.7FM 19 February, our own attorney general doesn’t seem interested.

“In the legislature we asked Attorney General Josh Shapiro to do that (look into it),” Schemel said. So far, “he has declined.”

Pennsylvania followed the same policy as New York did with the COVID situation. When someone tested positive for COVID in the hospital, they were sent to a nursing home. Or, if they were already in residence there, they returned.

It was done in an effort to not overwhelm hospitals.

“We know now that was a colossally bad thing to do because the virus spread through these nursing homes,” Schemel said. “We did the same thing that New York did. Now we find out that New York under-reported the deaths they had in those nursing homes for political purposes. They did not want that information out.”

Whether numbers were under-reported in Pennsylvania remains to be seen, but New Yorker’s didn’t know three weeks ago, either.

And with a state attorney general that doesn’t appear interested, will we ever know?

“If you have a parent or a loved one in a nursing home, you need to know that,” Schemel said.  You have to have confidence in your government. You can’t have confidence in a government that’s not self-reflective and admits wrongs, admits when it’s made mistakes or is transparent and you know it didn’t make mistakes.”

Shapiro has not given a reason as to why he is declining to look into this. “Our attorney general isn’t intellectually curious enough to check it out in Pennsylvania?” Schemel wondered.

Jansen said politics has played way too much of a role in all of this.

Attorney Clint Barkdoll weighed in on the issue earlier during the Big Talk on News Talk 103.7FM this morning and in terms of New York, there may even be criminal issues at play here.

Governors do have the authority to require nursing homes to accept patients – that’s not what’s really under the microscope.

“The problem is, in New York at least, it’s alleged the governor’s office did not disclose to the public the extent of the problems that were happening in the nursing homes,” Barkdoll noted.

The question then becomes how much did that non-disclosure influence funding the nursing homes received.

“That’s where it’s getting into the criminal investigative realm and there’s where he (Governor Cuomo) may have some real problems,” Barkdoll said.

Jansen pointed out how long ago all this happened and it’s only coming out now. “We know there were controversial things like the (Pa.) Secretary of Health getting her mother out of there at that time. We know there were fudging on the deaths in Pennsylvania. I think there’s enough smoke there to take a look at.”

Some Democrats are calling for Cuomo to be held accountable for this, too.

Jansen noted that a lot of these issues come down to what the media focuses on.

“If that had been a Republican that had pulled their mother out, the media would have been all over that and demonized the person, but because it was a Democrat, nope, it didn’t happen,” she said.

Ryan wondered how anyone can line up with the Democratic Party anymore. “With the press just carrying the water and covering for the disasters that are happening right at your parent’s feet, your grandparent’s feet, your kids feet and how you’re not pushing back.”