Gov. Andrew Cuomo, left, and Northwell Health hospital chain CEO Michael Dowling, center, possibly stood to profit financially from the suppression of COVID-19 data about nursing home deaths and from business with New York State, respectively, according to reports. Gov. Andrew Cuomo's YouTube Channel/Fair Use

Cuomo monetised the control of data that underreported COVID-19 nursing home deaths, in addition to attempting to thwart a Justice Department investigation : reports

Gov. Cuomo earned a literary advance estimated to be worth millions.

By Progress New York Staff

As Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D-NY) has come under fire over allegations of sexual harassment, he faces increasing legal risks from revelations about how he stood to gain from the withholding of data about nursing home deaths early in the Coronavirus pandemic.

Four days after aides to Gov. Cuomo reportedly acted to withhold the full number of COVID-19 deaths of nursing home residents from a State report, Gov. Cuomo announced that he was thinking of writing a book about his leadership, according to a report published by the New York Times. Gov. Cuomo reportedly earned a seven-figure advance from Crown Publishing Group, a unit of the publishing giant Penguin Random House, according to a report published by Vanity Fair.

The Editorial Board of the New York Post has alleged that Gov. Cuomo may have been motivated to allegedly obstruct the release of COVID-19-related death data, because he stood to profit from a self-aggrandising book deal.

There was an acknowledged artifice and a conspiracy to withhold data.

Cuomo’s top aides reportedly participated in an artifice to alter a July 2020 State report to downplay the number of COVID-19 deaths of nursing home residents, according to a report first published by the Wall Street Journal and that was separately reported by the New York Times, the latter which singled out the role of top aide Melissa DeRosa. Two other advisors, who reportedly had a role in the alleged cover-up, were Linda Lacewell and Jim Malatras. “None had public health expertise,” the Times report noted.

Ms. DeRosa has admitted that the withholding of data took place, because the Cuomo administration feared the data would “be used against us” in a politically-motivated Federal investigation launched by the then Trump administration, according a widely-cited report published by the New York Post. The information was eventually released after both State Attorney General Letitia James (D-NY) issued a report and a Judge issued a ruling in Court proceedings over a Freedom of Information Law request.

Besides standing to personally gain, Gov. Cuomo profited from campaign donations.

With the hospital industry lobby making political donations to Gov. Cuomo in the time before and after the passage of last year’s State budget, there was a provision in budget granting to “New York nursing homes broad legal protections from lawsuits and criminal prosecutions.” The Daily News has reported that Assemblymember Ron Kim (D-Queens), who was the target of alleged threats made by Gov. Cuomo, said he believed that there was “a connection between the legal immunity, and the way the administration reported coronavirus deaths of nursing home residents.”

In the past, Gov. Cuomo has overseen in excess of $1 million in donations from the hotel lobby.

The New York Times has reported that after the Greater New York Hospital Association contributed over $1 million in 2018 to the State Democratic Party which Gov. Cuomo controls, Gov. Cuomo reportedly increased Medicaid reimbursement rates “[s]oon after.” The surge in rates were made despite Gov. Cuomo’s long history of austerity budgets overall and specifically for healthcare. For example, during the first year of the Coronavirus pandemic, Cuomo forced a major healthcare cut that was estimated to eliminate $400 million from hospital payments as part of a larger $2,5 billion cut to Medicaid, according to a subsequent report published by the Times.

During the first months of the Coronavirus pandemic, the New York City public hospital system bore a disproportionate weight of COVID-19 treatment. Public hospitals, like Elmhurst Hospital Center in Queens, were the site of overcrowded conditions, whereas nearby private hospital systems sat basically empty according to a Times report. In contrast, near the peak of New York City’s first wave of the pandemic, Lenox Hill Hospital, the Upper East Side flagship for the private hospital system known as Northwell, was relatively tranquil. “Nothing dire is going on here, like the stories we’ve heard at other hospitals,” Dr. Andrew Bauerschmidt told the Times for a separate report.

Throughout the pandemic, Northwell CEO Michael Dowling has stood beside Gov. Cuomo during numerous press conferences.

For this report, neither Northwell nor the Greater New York Hospital Association answered media requests.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Brooklyn, which is leading a reported preliminary inquiry into the Cuomo administration’s alleged obstruction of COVID-19 data, did not answer questions submitted in advance.

When the first Coronavirus vaccine was administered in the United States on 14 Dec. 2020, Gov. Cuomo presided remotely over the event with Mr. Dowling standing beside the first such patient at one of the medical centers that make-up his hospital chain, according to a YouTube video of the event. Mr. Dowling was named to the Vaccine Distribution and Implementation Task Force, according to a State report.

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