White House press secretary Jen Psaki was pressured by a reporter over Rachel Levine’s connection to the Pennsylvania nursing home scandal at Monday’s White House press briefing.
When asked about Levine, President Joe Biden’s nominee for Assistant Health Secretary, Psaki denied the Pennslyvania scandal was comparable to nursing homes in New York, as the reporter suggested. Psaki also avoided discussing Levine’s connection to the nursing home deaths. (RELATED: ‘We Should Be Outraged’: Rand Paul Presses Dr. Rachel Levine On Children Transitioning Genders)
The reporter began by noting that Republican senators had opposed Levine’s nomination because she was “implicated” in the scandal. Levine had signed a directive for nursing homes to accept patients who previously had, or were hospitalized with, coronavirus. The reporter added Levine had removed her own mother from the nursing home after signing the directive.
“There’s over 12,000 senior deaths, that’s half of the Covid deaths in Pennsylvania. This is the same scandal that Cuomo is facing in New York, and the Governor of Pennsylvania is under investigation, so why does your administration feel that Rachel Levine should get a pass on this and get such a high official position at the Health and Human Services Department?” the reporter asked.
“I’d have to look into more specifics of the details, because it does not sound at all to me that her scenario is similar to the scenario in New York, but we’ll follow up with you if we have more to offer,” Psaki responded, brushing off the question and giving no further details.
Levine, who would be the first transgender official confirmed by the Senate, signed the nursing home directive on March 18, 2020. By May 2020, 68% of the coronavirus deaths in Pennsylvania occurred at nursing homes. Earlier this month, Republicans in the Pennsylvania legislature announced an investigation into Democratic Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolfe’s administration over its handling of the coronavirus in nursing homes.
Levine left Wolfe’s administration in January after receiving his nomination from Biden.