submitted by: Lindsay Heckler, Supervising Attorney
This week, the NYS Assembly passed a variety of legislation pertaining to nursing homes and adult care facilities. Below is a summary of each of each of the bills that were passed and what happens next. Before going into these bills, I want to make the following point that is getting lost during public discussions on the status of long-term care facilities in NYS: in order to improve the quality of care in long-term care facilities, comprehensive reform and investment must happen across all areas of long-term care, including access to care in the community. Our written testimony to the NYS Legislature for the Budget Hearing on Health/Medicaid, discusses the need for comprehensive reform and provides recommendations that can be taken during the budget process.
As part of reform, we have to recognize and acknowledge that the ‘law of economics’ does not work when it comes to long-term care, especially in nursing homes. The ‘law of economics’ in part entails that individuals (consumers) have a choice. This is not true for many older adults and people with disabilities. A CMS rating, for example, means nothing to an individual, when the only nursing homes that will accept them, are those rated 1 or 2-star. Furthermore, even a 5-star CMS rating means nothing to an individual who is denied access to people and services in the community.
Every person has a fundamental right to live in the least restrictive setting of their choosing. If an individual chooses to reside in a nursing home, or the nursing home is the last resort, we as a society and NYS have a moral and legal obligation to ensure nursing homes provide person-centered and quality care in a setting that promotes individuality and home-like environment. The current ‘institutional’ model and business practices are not working. In order to improve care in nursing homes, comprehensive reform that includes investment in keeping our older adults and people with disabilities in the community is essential. Without comprehensive reform, the nursing home industry will have no incentive to change, and the status quo will continue.
This week, the NYS Assembly passed the following:
A1052B/S614BPersonal and Compassionate Care Visitation in Nursing Homes and Adult Care Facilities
This bill provides authorization and regulation of visitation of personal care visitors and compassionate care visitors at nursing homes and adult care facilities. The Assembly passed the bill on March 3rd; the Senate previously passed the bill on February 22nd. The next step is for the Senate to send the bill to the Governor for signature. The bill would go into effect 45 days after signature. We urge residents, their families and supporters to write to the Governor, asking him to sign the bill into law.
A244 Creating the Health Emergency Response Data System
This bill is designed to create in statute the Health Emergency Response Data System (HERDS) and bring transparency to information gathered during public health emergencies, including communicable disease outbreaks like COVID-19, by requiring the Dept. of Health to share aggregate data form HERDS reports with the public. The Assembly passed the bill on March 4th The bill has been delivered to the Senate, where it is in the Senate Health Committee.
A3397/S5177 Repeals the Emergency or Disaster Treatment Protect Act
This bill repeals Article 30-D of the Public Health Law, also known as the Emergency or Disaster Treatment Protection Act, which extended immunity to hospitals and nursing homes from civil or criminal liability for harm or damages alleged to have been sustained as a result of an act or omission in the course of providing health care services during the pandemic. The Assembly passed the bill on March 4th.The bill has been delivered to the Senate, where it is in the Senate Health Committee.
A3919/S3058 Establishes Requirements for the Transfer, Discharge and Voluntary Discharge from Residential Health Care Facilities
This bill codifies requirements for the transfer, discharge and voluntary discharge from residential health care facilities (nursing homes). The Assembly passed the bill on March 4th; the Senate previously passed the bill on February 22nd. The next step is for the Senate to send the bill to the Governor for signature. The bill will take effect immediately once signed by the Governor.
A3922A/S598B: Reimagining Long Term Care Taskforce Act
This bill enacts the “reimagining long-term care task force act” to create a task force to study the state of long-term care services in NYS. The Assembly passed the bill on March 3rd; the Senate previously passed the bill on February 22nd. The next step is for the Senate to send the bill to the Governor for signature. The bill will take effect immediately once signed by the Governor.
A5436A/S612A: Enacting the Long Term Care Ombudsman Reform Act
Directs the office of the state long-term care ombudsman to provide opportunities for volunteers to work as resident advocates within the long-term care ombudsman program; directs the commissioner of health, in consultation with the state long-term care ombudsman, to establish policies and procedures for reporting, by staff and volunteers of the long-term care ombudsman program, issues concerning the health and safety of residents at nursing homes and residential health care facilities; includes access to state long-term care ombudsman program staff and volunteers within the pandemic emergency plan prepared by residential health care facilities; requires translations of a patient’s rights into the six most common non-English languages of New York State; and relates to the posting of information relating to the long term care ombudsman program. The Assembly passed the bill on March 4th; the Senate previously passed its version of the bill on February 22nd. The Assembly delivered its bill to the Senate where it is in the Senate Aging Committee.
A5842/S5269: Prohibits the Establishment, Incorporation, Construction, or Increase in Capacity of For-Profit Nursing Homes.
This bill prohibits all future establishment or expansion of bed capacity of a nursing home owned or operated, in whole or part, by a for-profit entity. The Assembly passed the bill on March 4th The bill has been delivered to the Senate, where it is in the Senate Health Committee.
A5846/S1784A: Requires Adult Care Facilities to Include Quality Improvement Committees and Includes a Focus on Infection Control in Such Facilities’ Quality Assurance Plans.
This bill requires adult care facilities to establish and incorporate quality assurance committees in each adult care facility’s quality assurance plan. Requires inclusion of front-line workers, employees, residents, and family members of residents in the quality assurance committees. Also requires that infection control be a focus in the quality assurance plan. The Assembly passed the bill on March 3rd; the Senate previously passed the bill on February 22nd. The next step is for the Senate to send the bill to the Governor for signature. The bill would go into effect 90 days after signature.
A5847/S2191: Antimicrobial Resistance Prevention and Education
This bill requires hospitals and nursing homes to establish an antimicrobial stewardship program and ensure that appropriate personnel receive anti-microbial resistance training. The Assembly passed the bill on March 4th. The Senate version of the bill is on the Senate Floor Calendar.
A5848/S3185: Provides Information on Where a List of Violations and Other Actions Taken Against the Facility can be Found
This bill requires residential health care facilities (nursing homes) to provide residents and their families with a document that includes information on how potential residents and families can find information on complaints, citations, inspections, enforcement actions, and penalties taken against the facility. The Assembly passed the bill on March 3rd; the Senate previously passed the bill on February 22nd. The next step is for the Senate to send the bill to the Governor for signature. The bill would go into effect 60 days after signature.
If there are questions, comments, or concerns about any of the above bills, or there is a bill you would like more information on, the Center for Elder Law & Justice is available to discuss and provide you with information. Please call 716-853-3087 for assistance.