WASHINGTON - Sen. Bill Nelson wants the Senate Finance Committee to launch an investigation into the deaths at a South Florida nursing home.

In a letter Friday, Nelson urged the committee to undertake a “thorough investigation to determine what led to 12 seniors dying at a nursing home in Hollywood, Florida after Hurricane Irma knocked out the facility’s air conditioning.”

“It is my understanding that it is the state’s responsibility to certify a nursing home’s compliance with all federal emergency preparedness regulations in order to receive federal payments under the Medicare and Medicaid programs,” Nelson wrote. “And to receive a state’s certification, current federal regulations require skilled nursing facilities and nursing facilities to develop and maintain an adequate emergency plan that is reviewed at least annually by the state.

“Because the certification for a skilled nursing facility is subject to CMS approval, and the Senate Committee on Finance has jurisdiction over the Medicare and Medicaid programs, I urge the Committee to use its authority to conduct a complete investigation into the State of Florida’s certification of the Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills to determine what led to the death of 12 seniors there in the wake of Hurricane Irma.”