The Democratic-led New York state Assembly released a package of nearly 20 nursing home accountability bills Friday, aimed at tightening restrictions on the hundreds of for-profit facilities.
Among the 19 bills is one sponsored by Assembly Health Chair Dick Gottfried (D-Manhattan) that would prohibit the creation of any new for-profit homes and impose a moratorium expanding the capacity of existing homes.
“Lots of people have been discovering that there are enormous problems in our nursing homes. COVID may have brought them to light and made them worse but a lot of us know those problems have been there for many, many, many years,” Gottfried said during Thursday’s remote Joint Legislative Budget Hearing on Health.
He railed against the for-profit industry in an interview later Thursday evening with NY1, arguing those nursing homes often have higher infection rates and instances of bed sores among patients.
“We’re not going to license any more for-profit nursing homes or for-profit beds,” he said. “We should stop the creation of for-profit beds…you should [operate a nursing home] to care for people not because you want to make money.”
Right now, there are 401 for-profit, privately owned nursing homes out of the roughly 619 in the Empire State, according to a January report from the office of state Attorney General Letitia James.
That report also found that of the 400-plus facilities, two-thirds, or 280 of these elder care facilities, have low federal ratings related to adequate patient to staff ratios.
Other measures included in the proposal concern family visitation guidance, infection control protocols and changing the state’s corporate immunity provision extended to hospital and nursing home administrators at the pandemic’s start.
The Assembly’s package comes several days after the state Senate passed a similar package of 10 bills, and Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced his own proposal tightening laws governing the long term care facilities which have been home to 13,586 deaths tied to the deadly coronavirus, as of the state’s latest recorded data as of Feb. 25,
The Cuomo administration has come under fire in recent weeks after The Post exclusively revealed that top gubernatorial aide Melissa DeRosa admitted officials withheld death data related to the virus in nursing homes because they feared backlash from the federal government under former President Donald Trump.
Since then, it has come to light that the Eastern District of New York and FBI are investigating the state’s handling of the virus in long-term care facilities following The Post’s reporting.
But representatives from the nursing home industry have taken issue with state lawmakers’ methods.
Jim Clyne, CEO of LeadingAge New York — an association that represents hundreds of nursing homes, adult care and assisted living locations across the state — argue legislators “completely miss the point.”
“The problem is not lack of regulation, the point is lack of financial support by the state,” he noted, telling The Post during the COVID-19 pandemic, the state cut Medicaid funding specifically directed to nursing homes.
When asked when the Assembly would move to pass these bills on the chamber floor, a spokesman for Speaker Carl Heastie (D-The Bronx) did not provide a specific timeframe.
“The Speaker and our members are focused on improving the lives of all New Yorkers and that includes making sure nursing homes are safe. We are working on several different issues to meet this goal,” said Mike Whyland.
“As Dr. Zucker said repeatedly during more than five hours of testimony yesterday, Gov. Cuomo will not sign a budget that does not include sweeping reforms to the nursing home industry that include putting patient care over profit, increasing transparency, and holding bad actors accountable,” said Health Department spokesman Gary Holmes.