Michigan’s governor has vetoed a bill that would have required coronavirus patients to be placed only into separate, COVID-only facilities and not nursing homes.
The legislation (S.B. 956) was passed by state lawmakers in late July and was prompted by the large number of COVID-19 deaths in Michigan’s nursing homes. Michigan is among the top states for resident deaths, with 1,569, according to the latest federal data.
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) said in a letter to state senators Friday that the bill is based on the “false premise that isolation units created within existing facilities are somehow insufficient to protect seniors.”
“Instead of protecting seniors, this bill would require the state to create COVID-19-only facilities, forcing hospitals and many nursing homes to send COVID-19-positive patients to such facilities without any requirement for consent, doctor approval, or notification to the patient or their family,” Whitmer wrote.
She added that the legislation also failed to explain how the facilities would be staffed and paid, or how residents would be protected during transfers to other facilities.
Whitmer has faced much criticism following a controversial policy that forced some nursing homes at less than 80% of capacity to create dedicated units for COVID-19-affected residents. It also mandated that those providers take in new patients as long as they had appropriate personal protection equipment for workers.
She later revised the order in late May to require providers to make “all reasonable efforts” to create units dedicated to residents with the disease; provide appropriate PPE to staff working in those units; and not accept coronavirus patients unless they have dedicated isolation units for those patients.