FOIA suit against HHS seeks records related to NY, PA nursing home policies amid pandemic

"The public, particularly those who lost loved ones due to the policies of the Cuomo and Wolf administrations, have a right to know the full truth about this public health scandal," Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton said in a statement.

Updated: March 16, 2021 - 4:30pm

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Judicial Watch announced on Tuesday that it has lodged a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit targeting the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) in an effort to obtain records regarding the nursing home policies and procedures of New York and Pennsylvania amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The watchdog organization reported that its suit comes after the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) did not respond to a December 7, 2020 FOIA request seeking nursing communication records pertaining to nursing facilities between several state and federal officials. 

Judicial Watch is seeking to obtain: "Communications, including emails and text messages, between Division of Nursing Homes Director Evan Shulman and Pennsylvania Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine regarding policies and procedures for nursing facilities during COVID-19. The timeframe of this request is February 18, 2020 to June 1, 2020." 

The watchdog group is also requesting records of such communications between Quality and Safety Oversight Group Director David Wright and Levine, between Shulman and Pennsylvania Deputy for Quality Assurance Susan Coble, between Wright and Coble, between Shulman and New York Department of Health Commissioner Howard Zucker, and between Wright and New York Department of Health Executive Deputy Commissioner Sally Dreslin.

"Thousands of nursing home residents in New York and Pennsylvania may have died thanks to those states' COVID-19 mandates," Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton said in a statement. "The public, particularly those who lost loved ones due to the policies of the Cuomo and Wolf administrations, have a right to know the full truth about this public health scandal."