News Bite

State Health Department Budget Up 25%, Still Failed To Track COVID Nursing Home Deaths

Blaming taxpayers' ‘chronic underinvestment’ won’t wash this one

Deadline Detroit reported May 25 that the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services has not tracked the exact number of COVID deaths associated with nursing homes in the state, calling the task too time-consuming.

The article quoted a departmental spokesman who said a thorough vital records review was “not a review that we are able to do regularly due to how time-consuming it is and the amount of resources we need to devote to doing this.”

Deadline Detroit then reported:

“The blame should not lie with state health employees and epidemiologists, said Sam Roosz, CEO and co-founder of Crescendo Health, a data and technology firm in Oakland, Calif., who reviewed our data and materials. Rather, Roosz believes the problems rest on decades of governmental budget cuts, and the current disfunction and division in American politics.”

“‘The U.S. has paid a heavy price this year for its chronic underinvestment in public health infrastructure,’ said Roosz.”

Roosz also told the news site: “History will repeat itself unless we learn from this lesson and modernize health data systems, invest in public health departments, and increase data transparency.”

Spending by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, or what the department calls “investment,” has risen steadily over the past decade. Its budget increased from $21.18 billion in 2012-13 to $30.18 billion in 2020-21, according to the Senate Fiscal Agency. Even after adjusting for inflation, that’s an additional $6.12 billion in revenue, or 25% more than it spent eight years ago.

Michigan Capitol Confidential is the news source produced by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. Michigan Capitol Confidential reports with a free-market news perspective.