LANSING, Mich. (Great Lakes News) – Governor Gretchen Whitmer and her administration used taxpayer money to incentivize nursing homes to take in COVID-19 positive patients.
Gov. Whitmer is facing increased scrutiny and a potential criminal investigation into her policies along with backlash over her separation agreement with former Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) Director Robert Gordon.
Now, several Republicans are asking for a federal investigation into Gov. Whitmer’s COVID-19 nursing home policy.
Whitmer chose 21 nursing homes to take COVID-19 positive patients, six of which received 2-star ratings and were considered below average. Three ranked much below average with one-star ratings according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Each facility was paid $5,000 upfront for a COVID-19 positive patient and $200 per day per bed after that.
Questions remain regarding what former MDHHS Director Robert Gordon knew about Whitmer’s nursing home policy.
Gordon abruptly resigned in January and received a $155,506 payout for his silence. While Whitmer has awkwardly sidestepped questions about Gordon’s departure for the past two months, a recent executive directive seeks to eliminate silencing clauses from future state separation agreements.
Whitmer attempted to clarify how taxpayer-funded confidential separation agreements will be used in the future.
The order comes after Whitmer’s administration doled out hundreds of thousands of dollars not only to Gordon but also to his coworker Sarah Esty and former Unemployment Insurance Agency Director Steve Gray. Their agreements also contained what some are calling “hush money” so they wouldn’t talk about their departure.
Tori Sachs with Michigan Rising Action said, “Gordon was in charge of the nursing home policy and the nursing home data. It’s imperative that everyone call on Gov. Gretchen Whitmer to amend her separation agreement [and the confidentiality clause] with Gordon and allow for transparency.”
Sachs went on to say, “Let’s get to the bottom of what happened in nursing homes.”
Whitmer said she will continue to use separation agreements and will require them to be reviewed by the attorney general. Those involved will be allowed to talk about the terms. However, this only applies to future agreements, not the ones already signed.