Feb. 25, 2021 By Allie Griffin
Assembly Member Ron Kim led a rally outside City Hall Wednesday morning to demand accountability and transparency from Governor Andrew Cuomo over the nursing home scandal.
Kim — joined by other elected officials and families of nursing home residents — announced a list of demands in the wake of the scandal in which the Cuomo administration allegedly withheld data on COVID-19 nursing home deaths from state and federal officials.
The rally-goers, which included Queens State Sen. Jessica Ramos and Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer, called for four key demands to be fulfilled.
They are demanding a Congressional oversight hearing on the crisis and an immediate and full repeal of a legal immunity clause that protects nursing homes.
The immunity clause was a provision included in last year’s budget that shields hospitals and nursing home executives from lawsuits related to COVID-19. It was quietly inserted into the budget by Cuomo, his critics say.
Cuomo’s opponents also argue that the Greater New York Hospital Association (GNYHA), an influentical lobby group, played a role in crafting the provision. The group has donated more than $1 million to Cuomo’s campaign.
Kim is calling on Cuomo to immediately return all campaign donations from GNYHA and to turn over all correspondence he has had with GNYHA and lobbyists concerning the immunity clause.
“The public is demanding to see who is on the side of the 15,000 dead nursing home residents and who is on the side of special interest groups,” Kim said. “Although nothing can replace a lost family member, our next, necessary steps will help uncover the truth behind the Cuomo administration’s withholding of life-and-death data.”
The rally follows a growing rift between Kim and Cuomo.
The governor verbally attacked Kim during a press conference last week after Kim accused him of obstruction of justice
The number was finally released following a report by Attorney General Letitia James, who estimated the death toll was undercounted by as much as 50 percent.
The number of nursing home deaths was revised last month from 8,500 to about 15,000.
A key Cuomo staffer later said that the information was withheld from lawmakers out of concern that a federal probe would be launched by the Trump administration.
Cuomo has denied any wrongdoing, saying that he was not obstructing justice by not providing the data in a timely manner.