ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — The state budget includes a number of nursing home reforms designed to ensure facilities put patients over profits. These changes tie in with the recent repeal of a nursing home immunity measure.
On Tuesday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed the bill repealing blanket legal protections given to health care facilities dealing with COVID patients. Attorney General Letitia James identified that legal shield as a concern in her explosive nursing homes report. She thought it may have let facilities to make financially motivated decisions when caring for patients.
Though many lawmakers see this as a win, some New York business leaders disagree. They say they fear it will be a free for all for attorneys.
Tom Stebbins, from the Lawsuit Reform Alliance of New York, said that “revoking those protections, as this bill does, will activate every ambulance chaser in New York state.” His group hopes the repeal of immunity will only apply to cases going forward, and not actions that were taken during the height of the pandemic.
Just hours after the governor signed the repeal, he reached an agreement with legislative leaders on the state budget. Its included reforms to establish minimum thresholds for nursing home spending of 70% of revenues on direct resident care, and 40% of revenues on resident facing staffing, as well as capping profits at 5%.
Cuomo said, “We’re saying to the for-profit nursing homes, we want the money that gets paid from you either, from the state or from the family, we want that money going to patient care and patient services.”
These reforms garnered union support from United Healthcare Workers East, who say these changes were a long time coming. “This pandemic has made abundantly clear that the broken nursing home industry has allowed owners to maximize their own profits at the expense of providing quality care.”
There is some pushback on these reforms from the industry, including the New York State Health Facilities Association, who has criticized the reforms as being one-size fits all, and not doing anything to recruit and retain workers into long term care.