Sen. Marco Rubio urges Senate inquiry into nursing home deaths.
U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio said Thursday the Senate committee with jurisdiction over Medicare and Medicaid should investigate what led to the deaths of 14 residents of a Hollywood nursing home in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma.
U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson asked the Senate Finance Committee two weeks ago to investigate what happened at the Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills.
Eight people died on Sept. 13 after the air conditioning system lost power and temperatures soared at the home. The death toll has increased as more victims have succumbed to the effects of time spent in the sweltering home. The nursing home is now closed and 245 workers have been laid off.
The deaths are already under investigation by the Hollywood Police Department and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.
But the senators want to know more. “This has shocked the state of Florida, and rightfully raised questions about the oversight of nursing homes, particularly the enforcement of existing emergency
preparedness requirements,” Rubio wrote in a letter to the leaders of the Finance Committee.
“I implore you to investigate the failures that occurred at this nursing home and others throughout the country, particularly in Florida and Puerto Rico, to prevent similar tragedies from happening in the future,” Rubio wrote. Last month, he pushed the Trump administration’s Department of Health and Human Services for answers to questions about the tragedy.
In their letters to the committee, Nelson and Rubio pointed to below average ratings, medication error rates and other violations of federal regulations — all potential subjects of an inquiry.
“In conducting such an investigation, I would ask the committee to examine emergency preparedness plans at this and other similar facilities, as well as the state’s response in the aftermath of the Florida incident, to ensure that our seniors in nursing homes are being protected during hurricanes and other disasters,” Nelson wrote in his Sept. 29 letter.
The request from Rubio, a Republican, may increase the likelihood of a Senate investigation, because he is in the majority party.
Nelson, a Democrat, is in the minority party in the Senate. The nursing home deaths and the state’s response are likely to be an issue in next year’s election, when Republican Gov. Rick Scott is widely expected to challenge Nelson.
“This has shocked the state of Floridaa, and rightfully raised questions about the oversight of nursing homes.” Sen. Marcio Rubio