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Michigan nursing homes not target of federal COVID investigations

National Institutes of Health
Patient room in the Special Clinical Studies Unit at the National Institutes of Health.

The US Department of Justice won’t open a formal investigation into Michigan’s nursing home policies during the COVID-19 crisis.

That word came Thursday in a letter from the department’s civil rights division. The department’s examination focused on whether the polices ran afoul of the Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act (CRIPA). The letter was sent to Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s legal counsel and was signed by Steven Rosenbaum, chief of the department’s Special Litigation Section.

From the letter: “We have reviewed the information you provided along with additional information available to the Department. Based on that review, we have decided not to open a CRIPA investigation of any public nursing facility in Michigan at this time.”

The initial request for information came last year during the Trump presidency. It suggested nursing home policies in Michigan and other states with Democratic governors were responsible for patient deaths. The Republican-led Michigan Legislature also opened hearings.

The state allowed recovering COVID patients to return to nursing homes with isolation units. But Whitmer’s press secretary said nursing homes were never forced to take COVID patients.

He also said Republican-led hearings in the Legislature needlessly “politicized” the COVID crisis.