By Dave Kingsley

The Center for Medicaid and Medicare Services released the report from its “independent”[1] “Coronavirus Commission for Safety and Quality in Nursing Homes”[2] yesterday (September 17th). The CMS press release announcing availability of the report[3] was a cynical, venal, propagandistic use of the commission’s work as cover for dereliction.

    Federal and state agencies charged with overseeing the nursing home system and the industry to which the care of our frail elders and disabled have been entrusted failed in their responsibilities.  The commission report is their exoneration.  In essence, the lives of our elderly and disabled brothers and sisters have been devalued and their future health and well-being placed in jeopardy.

    The title to the CMS press release was worded as follows: “Independent Nursing Home COVID-19 Commission Findings Validate Unprecedented Federal Response.”  The Trump Administration gave itself a pat on the back with unbelievable lies in its description of the contents of the report, which very few people will take the time to read.  For instance, Seema Verma was quoted as saying, “The Trump Administration’s effort to protect the uniquely vulnerable residents of nursing homes from COVID-19 is nothing short of unprecedented.”

    Does this sound like Donald Trump, who claims that he created the greatest economy in history and never tires of claiming that he has done more than any other president in practically every policy area?  By now everyone should understand that the current president is a cruel psychopathic narcissist and a pathological liar with no empathy?  Seema Verma is a quintessential toady who remains in her position by adhering to a dangerous autocrat’s demand for fealty.

    Verma made the obligatory “dear leader” praise of Trump by saying “President Trump sought to refine our approach still further as we continue to battle the virus in the months to come.”  How, I might ask, did he do that?  She went on to say this about the commission:  “Its findings represent both an invaluable action plan for the future and a resounding vindication of our overall approach to date.”  

    In fact, the report is page after page of technocratic proposals and pretentious jargon.  On their face, these proposals are innocuous.  My questions about this classic piece of “inside the beltway wankery” are:  “Why weren’t these things being done prior to the pandemic, or at least being done in January when the administration was warning the Senate Intelligence Committee about a coming pandemic that could rival the 1918 Flu?”

    In the days ahead, I’ll be blogging about the contents of the so-called independent commission report.  I want to encourage a conversation among advocates, scholars, and activists about the following issues:

  • The role of the nursing home industry (including the nonprofits) in the COVID-19 nursing home tragedy, which was excised from the commission’s report and perhaps altogether from its work.

  • The economic/financial context of the nursing home industry in 2020.  The evolution of capitalism to financialization and management theory to transaction and agency has had a major impact on the mission of real estate and other industries in the long-term care business.

  • The disturbing movement among major bioethicists to devalue the lives of elderly Americans and advocate for medical care rationing due to a misguided and erroneous belief that the 65+ population is a threat to the U.S. economic system. 

[1] It is important to note that the word “independent” was not in the official title for the commission, but CMS placed the adjective before the “Corona Virus Commission for Safety and Quality in Nursing Homes” in a press release for the purpose of capturing the cachet of members and the imprimatur of their organizations as a propaganda ploy.

[2]; see the full report here:



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