Skip to content

Senators issue statement on DHHS-OAG report controversy

LANSING, Mich. — Sens. Ed McBroom, R-Waucedah Township; Lana Theis, R-Brighton; and Doug Wozniak, R-Shelby Township; issued the following statement on Wednesday, in response to backlash from the Department of Health and Human Services concerning an Office of the Auditor General (OAG) report indicating the department underreported the number of long-term care facility residents who died from COVID-19:

“We already knew that more than one-third of all COVID-19-associated deaths in our state occurred among residents at long-term care facilities. Now, independent state auditors have concluded administration bureaucrats either miscalculated or misreported, if not misled, the public about the number of COVID-19 deaths at such facilities.

“The Senate Oversight Committee held multiple hearings on Executive Order 2020-50. The order forced facilities to take in infected persons even if it meant housing them with healthy residents. At the time, the administration chose to decline offers to re-open closed facilities as quarantine facilities or utilize special sites it had prepared. Later, the administration created a hub system that still utilized low-performing facilities. The director at the time repeatedly told the committee that the department knew it was not accurately or adequately counting deaths for the first three months.

“It is shocking that the department has not pursued attaining a more accurate count of those early months, even after admitting it had not done a good job counting. Instead of owning up to the mistake, the administration attacked the auditor general before the final report was issued in a poor attempt at preemptively discrediting the OAG, which has been nationally recognized for its work rooting out problems in health care settings. The OAG has a commendable record on health care related audits, including receiving two national awards for its work on the Grand Rapids Home for Veterans.

“Politicizing crises is not uncharacteristic of this administration and it seems they presume all others do the same. The auditor general was elected unanimously by the Legislature and has an impeccable and undeniable reputation of conducting himself and his department in a professional, non-partisan, objective manner. To infer otherwise, especially while facing unpleasant and undesired data, simply demonstrates an unwillingness to accept accountability and a lack of character. The fact remains DHHS did not report 1,511 long-term care facility deaths from COVID-19 and the public deserves better.”

###