Michigan’s auditor general is reviewing the accuracy of the data that was collected by the state on coronavirus deaths that happened in nursing homes and long-care facilities.
Auditor General Doug Ringler wrote in a letter to Rep. Steve Johnson (R-Wayland), who chairs the state’s House Oversight Committee, that the results of the review should be available before the end of the year.
“We received your June 10, 2021, request to provide a comprehensive study of reported and unreported deaths in long-term care facilities in Michigan. I am writing to notify you we intend to act upon your request,” Ringler wrote. “We will be working with various departments’ databases to address your concerns, which will impact the timing of our work. A preliminary estimate of our completion is late-September to mid-October. We plan to report the results to you in a question and answer format; therefore, please contact us if you have additional questions.”
The letter came in response to Johnson requesting in a letter that a “comprehensive study of reported and unreported deaths in long-term care facilities” be completed after questions arose about the accuracy of the data.
The letter added:
In our recent House Oversight Committee hearing, Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) Director Hertel admitted that because not all types of facilities are required to report deaths, not all have done so. The number of long-term care facility deaths is likely higher than what is being reported.
Additionally, not all long-term care facilities are required to report their deaths to the state. This includes homes for the aged and adult foster care facilities as well as smaller (12 or less residents) facilities. As we emerge from the pandemic, it is crucial we have accurate data so we can properly assess the effectiveness of our COVID-19 response and be better prepared for future pandemics.
“I am confident that the Auditor General will provide us with a more accurate picture of the deadly results of Gov,” Johnson said. “Whitmer’s decision to place COVID positive patients in long-term care facilities.”
Sen. Jim Runestad (R-White Lake) applauded the move by the auditor general in a statement, saying that “our most vulnerable nursing home residents were put in harm’s way because of policies from this administration.”
“Since our attorney general refuses to investigate, it’s about time the auditor general get those real answers for grieving families,” he added. “I welcome this investigation and the chance to shine some light on this entire tragedy.”
Michigan’s Department of Health and Human Services said they “followed the best data and science from the CDC to slow the spread of COVID-19 and protect Michiganders, including vulnerable residents in long-term-care facilities.”