California nursing homes got insider access to Newsom’s health care regulators. Here’s how

From the 7/2/20 Sacramento Bee:

On April 9, California nursing homes were already in a state of crisis. Employees were staying home, fearing for their safety without proper protection. Facilities reported deaths daily.

At 12:30 p.m. that day, the chief advocate for California’s nursing home industry dispatched an email to officials at the California Department of Public Health. The email listed seven urgent concerns facing nursing homes, including child care and housing for workers.

The most detailed priority on the list: “The continuing bleed of $$$ to respond to COVID.”

“We’ve been working … on getting rate increases but making that happen sooner than later will help,” the industry advocate wrote.

Increased protective equipment for staff members and testing were the final items on the list.

Those priorities came from Craig Cornett, the CEO of the California Association of Health Facilities, an industry group representing 80 percent of the nursing homes in the state.

Cornett’s email to the Department of Public Health, among a flurry he sent in the early weeks of the pandemic, highlights how one industry official gained open-door access to the department that regulates his clients, according to emails and documents obtained by The Sacramento Bee through a public records request.

Cornett asked for standards to be relaxed and regulations to be waived. He recommended that COVID-19 patients be housed by one of his for-profit clients — a move that would make them eligible for higher federal payments. He swapped ideas with state officials about moving patients to a hospital ship and solicited their expertise on antibody testing.

All of this came while Cornett and a host of industry officials were asking Gov. Gavin Newsom to grant nursing homes immunity from criminal prosecution and make it harder to sue when residents get sick or die. (Newsom has yet to endorse or reject the idea.)

Read the rest of the article at the Sacramento Bee website.