Albany has kept New Yorkers in the dark for months about Covid-related deaths in nursing homes, and someone finally needs to pull back the curtain and let the sun shine in. The necessary reckoning should start with a bold exercise in transparent government: The state Health Department should open its vault of pandemic data and release every last digit to the public. No Freedom of Information requests. No lawsuits. No subpoenas. Give public information to the public.
This simple but powerful idea was put forward in an open letter spearheaded by Reinvent Albany and co-signed by eight other watchdog groups, including the Empire Center. The letter calls for legislative oversight hearings and an independent investigation, which are great ideas. But first and most important, the groups urged the state to publish all of its Covid-19 data and attached a checklist of 121 data sets to guide the process.
As the Empire Center’s senior fellow for health policy, Bill Hammond tracks fast-moving developments in New York’s massive health care industry, with a focus on how decisions made in Albany and Washington affect the well-being of patients, providers, taxpayers and the state’s economy.