State lawmakers discuss nursing home staffing bill

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ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) – A measure to improve staffing levels at nursing homes is being discussed amongst New York State lawmakers.

The  proposal in the state legislature sets a standard of 3.5 hours of care per patient per day at nursing homes. The legislation builds on other nursing home reforms taken up this session like capping profits, and repealing a nursing home immunity measure granted during the start of the pandemic. 

Senator Gustavo Rivera who sponsors the bill in the Senate says 38 other states have standards when it comes to nursing home staffing levels. “Certainly, we have to protect these folks and I believe that this will certainly do that,” Rivera said. 

“This is really necessary for just the health, the mental health, and the humanity of how we treat people in nursing homes,” said Senator Rachel May.

Despite moving through the Senate Health Committee, the legislation has faced criticism from other lawmakers that the new regulations will put a heavy financial burden on the facilities.

“My concern would be that their ability to still be around after absorbing these costs without any additional revenues to provide the care first and second to be able to find the nurses to be able to do it,” said Senator Patrick Gallivan.

Stephen Hanse with the New York State Health Facilities Association and the NYS Center for Assisted Living says the “legislation ignores the reality of the long-term workforce crisis” in the state. And, that the state should “increase Medicaid reimbursement to nursing homes before imposing staffing mandates.” “We fully support staffing levels, but you need two things. You need the staff who are ready, willing and able to work and you need the financial resources to pay that staff and right now New York lacks both of them,” Hanse said. 

The legislation is expected to be taken up in the Assembly Health Committee tomorrow. 

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