Republican Sen. Jim Tedisco wants an independent commission to investigate nursing home deaths during the coronavirus pandemic, but his proposed measure to create the panel is yet to receive a bill number despite being introduced two weeks ago.
Tedisco accused Democrats who hold the majority in the state Senate of blocking the measure from evening seeing the light of day. Democrats, in turn, accused Tedisco of playing politics and chasing headlines.
More than 6,000 nursing home residents have died since the coronavirus pandemic swept through the state in March.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo has defended the state's handling of the issue and his administration released a report pushing back on claims a state order to discharge elderly coronavirus patients from hospitals to nursing homes was responsible for the deaths.
The report issued by the Department of Health has fueled calls for an independent investigation into nursing home deaths. Democratic lawmakers in both state Senate and Assembly who lead their respective health committees have said they will hold hearings.
Tedisco's bill would create a commission to review the nursing home issue. Usually it takes about a day for a legislator's bill to receive a number so it can be properly filed and appear on the registery of proposed legislation.
“It’s unprecedented for a sitting Senator to have a bill held-up by the Majority Counsel for two weeks and keep getting told that we’re going to get a bill number for it soon," Tedisco said.
"If the Majority wants to take my name off the bill and pass it as one of their own, that’s fine. It’s not the first time that’s happened to me in the legislature and I don’t have pride in authorship. I just want to see the legislature step-up and create an independent investigation to find out what really happened that led to the tragic deaths of 6,400 nursing home residents and provide answers and a measure of closure to the families."
Mike Murphy, a spokesman for the Senate Democratic conference, called the nursing home issue "too serous" for Tedisco to "play silly political games" over.
"We all know that Senator Tediscio loves to see his name in the press," he said. "We have made clear that we will be doing bipartisan hearings on this very topic and it is too serious an issue to chase headlines or play silly political games."