Fact Check: Did All Democrats Vote Against Turning Over NY Nursing Home COVID-19 Data?

The House Energy and Commerce Committee held a hearing Friday to consider revisions to mark up the COVID-19 budget reconciliation legislation for the fiscal year 2021.

The hearing was split into four parts, each designated to discuss topics of health, Medicaid, Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) and other provisions.

The Claim

During the hearing, Representative and Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) proposed an amendment that he said would penalize states that undercut and underreported COVID-19 nursing home deaths.

This comes after news broke that alleged Democratic New York Governor Andrew Cuomo's administration knowingly undercounted the deaths among nursing home residents during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic in an alleged cover-up scheme.

Andrew Cuomo's aide says office kept nursing home deaths under wraps to avoid giving Trump ammunition https://t.co/Pd1TLS3TZW

— Newsweek (@Newsweek) February 12, 2021

After the hearing, Scalise shared a tweet: "Every Democrat on the Energy and Commerce Committee—including the ones from New York—BLOCKED my amendment to require New York to turn over ALL the data on nursing home deaths we now know they've been purposefully hiding.

Why are they STILL covering for Cuomo?"

🚨 BREAKING → Every Democrat on the Energy and Commerce Committee—including the ones from New York—BLOCKED my amendment to require New York to turn over ALL the data on nursing home deaths we now know they've been purposefully hiding.

Why are they STILL covering for Cuomo?

— Steve Scalise (@SteveScalise) February 12, 2021

The Facts

The amendment would temporarily decrease the Federal Medical Assistance Percentage (FMAP) for medical assistance under state Medicaid plans for states that undercount COVID-19 deaths in nursing facilities. This means that the federal medical assistance for the state will decrease by one percentage point during the period of time from when it is discovered that a state undercounted these deaths until the state publicly releases accurate data.

BREAKING: @SteveScalise JUST introduced an amendment for accountability in COVID nursing home deaths.

With the #Cuomo bombshell, will E&C Democrats join us to hold states like NY accountable for their nursing home death coverups?

🚨 RT if you agree families deserve justice. pic.twitter.com/BBTU8tQBHH

— Energy & Commerce GOP (@HouseCommerce) February 12, 2021

The amendment failed by a vote of 30-26. The vote was split along party lines, as all the "aye" votes were from Republicans and all of the "no" votes were from Democrats.

Two Democratic members, Diana DeGette of Colorado and Donald McEachin of Virginia, did not cast votes.

During the hearing, Scalise said that Cuomo "obstructed justice" by knowingly withholding data out of fear of what it would show.

He said the amendment is "just saying you have to report the data. If you do report all the data, you don't lose a dime."

Congressman Richard Hudson (R-N.C.) called the Democrats' explanations "verbal gymnastics" and said the issue was simple.

"You're either going to stand with the victims in these nursing homes and their families and stand up against politicians who lied and deceived to cover their own tracks, or you're not," Hudson said.

"The only way you're going to get the attention of bureaucrats and politicians like Governor Cuomo is to threaten their funding," he added. "And the only way the funding gets cut is if they don't share their data."

Many Democrats who spoke during the debate agreed that there needs to be accountability and accurate reporting of data, but that this amendment would punish the patients and nursing home residents.

Congresswoman Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.) said the legislation is "going in the wrong direction" because the committee shouldn't "cut off funding to people [they] are trying to help."

Congresswoman Kathy Castor (D-Fla.) said she "strongly opposed" this "flawed and harmful" amendment. "The answer is not to penalize patients who rely on the services under Medicaid," she said.

Eshoo and Castor said they have plans in the works to address these issues.

The Ruling

True.

During the vote for Scalise's amendment, all of the "no" votes came from Democratic members of the Energy and Commerce Committee.

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Cuomo
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo faces accusations that he under-reported COVID-19 deaths to avoid giving then-President Donald Trump ammunition. Here, Cuomo speaks during a press conference to discuss the first positive COVID-19 case in New York state on March 2, 2020, in New York City. ANGELA WEISS/Getty