ALBANY, N.Y. (PIX11) — The state budget is now fully passed and awaits Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s signature, as the focus in Albany is poised to shift back to his scandals. This $212 billion budget and some related legislation address one of the areas of concern: nursing homes.
Assemblyman Ron Kim, best known as being among the first lawmakers to stand up and call out Cuomo’s handling nursing home deaths, praised parts of the just-passed budget. Namely, he pointed to a new requirement nursing homes spend at least 70% of their revenue on direct resident care. Separate legislation also now fully reverses the legal immunity nursing and hospital executives were given by the Cuomo administration during the pandemic.
Kim said there is still work to be done to improve care for older New Yorkers, especially the home healthcare industry.
“When we invest in home care, the return is tangibly greater than sending someone off to a facility,” Kim said. “Yet we have a shortage of workers because they’re making at best $17 per hour.”
With the budget passed, Albany’s focus is poised to shift back to the many Cuomo controversies including nursing homes, sexual misconduct allegations, and possible abuses of power — including allegedly setting up a VIP testing program involving state resources for family and political allies.
After weeks of avoiding questions about his scandals, Cuomo denied he had knowledge of special treatment Wednesday. The department of justice is investigating the nursing homes, and the office of Attorney General Letitia James is investigating the sexual harassment claims. The Assembly Judiciary Committee will focus on everything.
Assemblywoman Yuh-Line Niou, who was a long-time staffer before being elected, said she is concerned about these investigations taking months.
“I’m actually a little frightened for some of the people who still work there, the people who have been brave enough to step up and step out and speak out,” she said. “They have to go back there every single day, and work in that toxic environment.”
Cuomo has generically made statements about following the law against retaliation against current staffers, but would not provide specifics.