Senator James Skouﬁs (D-Woodbury) announced that a package of bills he authored to increase protections and accountability within nursing homes and long-term care facilities has passed in the state Senate, along with a larger package of oversight-based nursing home reforms. Skouﬁs additionally called on the legislature to bring a vote to the floor to reign in the Governor’s emergency powers, arguing it’s time our co-equal branches of government are restored.
Skouﬁs’ bills specifically focus on creating accountability and transparency - both within nursing homes as well as the Department of Health - while increasing safety standards. The rest of the legislative package establishes a direct patient care spending ratio for nursing homes, creates a taskforce to reimagine the delivery of long-term care, allows personal and compassionate care visitors, mandates disclosure of nursing home ratings, and requires more infection control policies by nursing homes and require state health officials to conduct more thorough inspections.
“Among many other devastating issues, the pandemic made it apparent that nursing homes and other congregate living facilities were especially vulnerable and severely ill-equipped to protect against the spread of COVID-19.” said Skouﬁs. “Absolutely nothing can ever replace the traumatic losses that thousands of New Yorkers faced, but we can create a safer future by implementing laws that protect health care staff, residents, and their families. That’s what I will continue ﬁghting for as we get these and other important bills signed into law; I’ll also keep pushing for the Governor’s emergency powers to be revoked, as it’s clear they are no longer appropriate.”
Bills in the package include: Reimagining Long-Term Care Task Force: This bill, S.598B, enacts the “Reimagining Long-Term Care Task Force” to create a task force studying the state of both home-based and facility-based long-term care services in the state, and to make recommendations on potential models of improvement to long-term care services for older New Yorkers.
Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program Reform Act: This bill, S.612A, creates “The Long-term Care Ombudsman Program Reform Act” by expanding the current program to be more accessible and available to seniors and their families, while promoting the volunteer advocate program, and improve interactions between DOH and the Ombudsman program regarding complaints.
Allowing Compassionate Care-Giving Visitors: This bill, S.614B, creates a standardized program to allow personal care and compassionate care visitors at nursing homes.