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The reforms follow a deadly year in New York nursing homes

ALBANIA, NEW YORK (AP) – After a deadly year in New York nursing homes, state lawmakers have passed legislation that would make institutional operators more accountable for neglect, potentially forcing them to spend more on patient care.

The recent state budget deal rules require profitable homes to spend at least 70% of their income on inpatient care, including 40% on employees who work directly with residents.

Under the deal, which will be signed by Democrat Gov. Andrew Cuomo, homeowners will also face profit margins. Any profit of more than 5% should have been sent to the state.

“The goal here is not just to protect people in nursing homes, but to keep bad actors from doing so,” said Sen. Gustavo Rivera, chairman of the Senate Health Committee. The New York budget will also send $ 64 million to nursing homes to increase the staffing of nurses.

The venture industry has raised new revenue requirements, saying operators need flexibility for things like construction costs.

Steven Hansen, executive director of the New York State Association of Health Institutions, says the big problem in the industry is not the greed of the owners, but the low rates of compensation for care. He said the average cost of skilled nursing care per capita per day is $ 266, but New York pays an average of $ 211.

According to him, the new state expenditure mandate “harms the highest quality, fully staffed 4 և 5 star nursing homes, demanding that funds be diverted from other patient care investments, building improvements, and used only for certain staff.”

In New York, more people living in COVID-19 have died than in any other state. There were 13,800 deaths in nursing homes alone.

The Cuomo administration’s decision to keep the death toll from the public for months is being investigated by federal prosecutors and is the subject of a legislative impeachment investigation.

Cuomo և lawmakers are also facing complaints from family members who have been devastated by the state’s high death toll, and are concerned that residents are still at risk in some low-income settings despite ongoing vaccination campaigns.

“I had absolutely no idea what the nursing home industry was like until I had to do it,” said 63-year-old Cecilia Potter of Kobleskill, whose 74-year-old husband lives in a New York-based nursing home.

Potter says her husband, a naval veteran, has not dispersed for weeks, paying little attention to over-stretched assistants, and has experienced a sharp decline over the past year.

She said she saw her husband, the owner of a nursing home, driving luxury cars and wanted to know how much money he earned from residents whose care was mainly funded by Medicaid.

“We need a massive reform of the old people’s home, which we are doing all over the country, it is probably in the whole republic,” he said. “It simply came to our notice then. They should not be. This is our most vulnerable population. ”

A new law signed by Cuomo this week abolishes the legal shield that protected nursing homes from certain lawsuits during the COVID-19 epidemic.

New York law was among the nation’s most defensive, with Attorney General Letitia James Ames urging lawmakers to repeal it in January.

“The immunity provision made it a green light for institutions to get involved in practice, to involve staff members who are known to pose an unreasonable risk to residents,” said Nina Kon, a professor at Syracuse University Law School.

The abolition of immunity does not allow family members to sue for impeccable care during the months of the epidemic when the shield was in effect. This was demanded by the right-wing defenders of the elderly. But lawmakers hope their efforts can help families who are still trying to sue.

New York’s new rules, which require 70% of income to be used for patient care, will be lower than in some states. New Jersey requires that at least 90% of the proceeds be spent on patient care.

But a “significant number” of nursing homes spend 50 percent of their income և 60 percent on home care services, says Richard Gottfried, chairman of the New York Democrats Assembly Health Committee.

“Until now, there were almost no rules,” Gottfried said. “So if they make money, even when you prove it, it will not backfire. The new system will require enforcement. It will require the health department or, if necessary, the attorney general or supervisor to verify the data to make sure that the money is actually being spent where the owner claims it is being spent. ”

At the same time, some family members and lawyers are worried that nonprofit nursing home operators will find ways to limit income. About two-thirds of New York nursing homes make a profit.

Attorney Allon Dalli, who focuses on nursing home violence and neglect, says income restrictions, for example, do not prevent nursing home operators from dealing with commercial companies that may own a rented building.

“I’m skeptical that this ‘cover’ will have any real impact on the final profit that goes to these operators and their families,” Dalli said.

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