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NJ Senate Republicans call for investigative committee to probe nursing home deaths

(The Center Square) – New Jersey Senate Republicans want Senate President Steve Sweeney, D-Gloucester, to form a bipartisan investigative committee to probe nursing home deaths in the Garden State. Screen Shot 2020-04-15 at 15.56.23

The 15 members of the Senate Republican caucus signed the letter to Sweeney. It follows similar requests Republican lawmakers have made since May.

“To date, nearly 8,000 residents and staff of our nursing homes and veterans homes have died, with the loss of life still rising at a tragic rate,” they wrote. “In fact, deaths in our nursing homes tripled in December from the prior month as the [Gov. Phil] Murphy administration bungled paperwork delaying the start of the vaccination process in these facilities.”

The lawmakers want the committee to have subpoena power and point to similar action that New York Democratic lawmakers are taking.

“Without a substantial legislative oversight effort to hold them accountable for the preventable deaths in our nursing homes, veterans homes, and LTC facilities, it’s clear the Murphy Administration has had little motivation to improve protections for New Jersey’s seniors, veterans, and disabled residents from the devastating impact of COVID-19,” the lawmakers wrote.

“We continue to believe the Legislature must utilize the full range of its oversight powers as a co-equal branch of government to demand accountability and improve transparency from the administration on all aspects of its COVID-19 response,” they added. “We again urge you to allow the formation of a bipartisan select committee with subpoena power to help us to uncover the truth and develop and implement life-saving reforms.”

Separately, Assembly Republican Leader Jon Bramnick, R-Union, called for legislative hearings following a report from Gloucester County that some residents who received their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine in Sewell could not book an appointment for a second dose.

“This is worse than poor planning, this is inexcusable,” Bramnick said in a statement. “No one should get their first dose without certainty that they will be able to receive their second. The Legislature should hold a hearing immediately to get to the bottom of this and fix the problem.”

Representatives for Murphy and Sweeney could not immediately be reached for comment.


published here with permission of The Center Square