December 23, 2021
Albany, NY

Governor Hochul Signs Package of Legislation to Help Long-Term Care Facilities and Residents

Governor Hochul Signs Package of Legislation to Help Long-Term Care Facilities and Residents

Legislation (S.1783-A/A.6057-A) Directs the Commissioner of Health to Implement an Infection Inspection Audit and Checklist on Nursing Homes

Legislation (S.612-B/A.45436-B) Helps Promote the Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program

Legislation (S.598-B/A.3922-A) Establishes a Long-Term Care Task Force that will Examine the State of Long-Term Care

Legislation (S.4652-B/A.6590-B) Allows for Study, Development, and Implementation of a Long-Term Strategy to Support the Growth of the Caregiving Industry in New York State

Governor Kathy Hochul signed a package of legislation to help long-term care facilities and provide assistance to the long-term care system. Legislation (S.1783-A/A.6057-A) directs the commissioner of health to implement an infection inspection audit and checklist on nursing homes. Legislation S.612-B/A.45436-B enacts a series of reforms to the State Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program and related programs to increase accessibility for residents of nursing homes and residential care facilities. S.598-B/A.3922-A establishes the "reimagining long-term care task force" to study the state of long-term care services in the state. Legislation S.4652-B/A.6590-B directs the Commissioner of Economic Development, in consultation with the Commissioners of Health, Labor and OCFS to study, develop, and implement a long-term strategy to support the growth of the caregiving industry in New York State. 

"As New Yorkers, we have a moral obligation to protect the most vulnerable among us," Governor Hochul said. "People living in long-term care facilities deserve the best possible treatment, and their loved ones deserve to know these facilities are providing compassionate care and protection. These bills will help build the long-term care system back stronger and ensure quality care and support is available for the New Yorkers who need it most."  

Legislation (S.1783-A/A.6057-A) directs the commissioner of health to implement an infection inspection audit and checklist on nursing homes. This will require nursing home facilities to adhere to an audit evaluation checklist based on core competencies relating to infection control, personal protective equipment, staffing, clinical care, and communication. This bill ensures that our most vulnerable are receiving the best possible care and that nursing home staff are prepared and protected. If a facility is not in compliance, the Department of Health will perform continuous audits until the facilities is in compliance. Nursing homes must also designate a staff member in charge of PPE and have an infection plan that includes lessons learned from COVID like cohorting. Penalties may include a revocation or suspension of a facility's license under certain conditions. During the pandemic in has become clear that many nursing homes were unprepared and ill-equipped to protect against the spread of COVID-19, leading to unnecessary deaths. This legislation will promote all facilities to be prepared for any possible future crises. 

Senator James Skoufis said, "This pandemic has brought to light so many fragilities in the systems we depend on and often take for granted. Those working or residing in nursing homes saw firsthand the life and death consequences of safety lapses in the face of COVID-19. This law adds new layers of accountability for these nursing home facilities, and I am grateful to Governor Hochul for supporting this important set of guardrails." 

Assemblymember Patrick B. Burke said, "It's essential we make sure our aging population and their families feel confident that health and safety is the absolute top priority in nursing home facilities. By directing the Department of Health to institute an infection inspection audit and checklist for nursing homes, it provides another layer of oversight to ensure the rights and better quality of life of our elderly population. Additionally, providing a consistent strategy to these facilities will make certain the most effective control measures are utilized for future outbreaks." 

Legislation S.612-B/A.45436-B directs the Office of the State Long-Term Care Ombudsman to advertise and promote the Long-Term Care Ombudsman program. It directs the Commissioner of Health, in consultation with the State Long-Term Care Ombudsman and the Commissioners of the departments responsible for the license or certification of long-term care facilities, to establish policies and procedures for reporting, by staff and volunteers of the Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program, issues concerning with health, safety and welfare of residents at long-term care facilities. This bill also includes access to state long-term care ombudsman program staff and volunteers within the pandemic emergency plan prepared by residential health care facilities.  

Legislation S.598-B/A.3922-A establishes a long-term care task force that will examine the state of long-term care, both home-based and facility-based in the state. It considers potential models for improvement and will examine both the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on long-term care as well as the broader long-term system in New York. It sets the duties and topics of inquiry for the task force, sets the membership of the task force and establishes the Director of the State Office for the Aging as chair. It will also direct state agencies to provide the task force necessary assistance and requires a report from the task force with respect to the COVID-19 pandemic.  

Legislation S.4652-B/A.6590-B incorporates the caregiving sector as part of the state's economic development strategy. It requires the Commissioner of Economic Development to study, develop, and propose how to implement a long-term strategy to support the growth of the caregiving industry in New York State. This strategy must be detailed in a report that analyzes the support needed to expand the caregiving industry, develop, recruit, and retain a skilled workforce, and bring new modes of delivering caregiving.  

Senator Rachel May said, "I am grateful to Governor Hochul for taking a bold step forward today in reimagining how New York does long-term care. Our elders deserve to live in the communities they love, with dignity, for as long as they can, and these bills are a significant step toward helping to ensure they are able to. By reimagining our long-term care system and by laying the foundations for investing in a truly caring economy, we are positioning New York to once again be a leader. And by strengthening the long-term care ombudsman program, we will guarantee that these resident advocates have more tools to help protect nursing home residents. I thank the Governor and Assembly partners for their collaboration on these bills and I look forward to continuing working with them to build a truly age-friendly state."  

Assemblymember Sarah Clark said, "New York State's Long-term Care Ombudsman Program has one primary purpose, to advocate for residents in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities, but far too often complaints and calls go unanswered or face lengthy delays. This legislation will make the Ombudsman program more effective first by increasing the number of volunteers through education, promotion and recruitment. Second, enforcing a stronger line of communication between the program's staff and volunteers and the Department of Health that investigate and resolve complaints. And last by ensuring that all long term care facilities include ombudsmen in their pandemic plans, allowing residents to have an advocate at all times. The need to reform this program was exacerbated throughout the COVID-19 pandemic as shocking data and nursing homes deaths revealed that the former program was not working as well as it was intended. The Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program Reform Act strengthens the current program so that we can better protect our seniors and most vulnerable populations."  

Assemblymember Dr. Anna R. Kelles said, "I am thrilled that Governor Hochul has signed the "Investing in Care Act," into law. This legislation will ensure that we study and develop a long-term strategy for improving the caregiving industry in New York, including direct care, home care, childcare, adult care, private and non-profit nursing homes and residential facilities. This law will ensure a plan that addresses the chronic challenges faced by caregiving industry businesses and non-profits including: financial constraints as well as workforce shortages caused by insufficient workforce development, recruitment, and retention and will outline a pathway of innovation and new modes of caregiving that provide equity of service across the caring industry. A robust caring industry is a cornerstone of both economic resiliency as well as economic development and without financially stable caring institutions, living wage jobs for the caring workforce, and equity in access to care we will continue to see runaway healthcare costs and escalating poverty throughout the state."  

Assemblymember Catalina Cruz said, "The deadly impact of the Covid-19 in our long-term care facilities has tragically plagued families statewide. But even before this pandemic, quality of care, injury, and even deaths at these facilities have been an ongoing problem. This legislation will take the best minds working in healthcare and allow them to shape how we should be improving our nursing homes, rehabilitation centers and other long-term care delivery systems and processes. This legislation will help modernize the care we give our most vulnerable while saving lives and improving the quality of life for countless New Yorkers. I thank Governor Hochul for signing this important piece of legislation into law and commend Senator Rachael May for championing this bill in the State Senate." 

Contact the Governor’s Press Office

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