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Governor Hochul signs executive order blocking implementation of law setting nursing home staffing standards

Governor Kathy Hochul has signed an executive order delaying the start of a new state law requiring nursing homes to devote a minimum percentage of their revenue toward providing better patient care.

The Albany Times-Union reports the Governor cited the labor shortage in the health care field as the reason for the delay. The measure was passed by the legislature last year after complaints that nursing homes lacked the staff and resources to properly care for residents during the COVID-19 pandemic. A spokesperson for the state Health Department confirmed the delay, saying “while nursing homes are encouraged to comply, in light of the current staffing crisis, the (executive order) suspension makes it clear that noncompliance will not be a violation of the Public Health Law, so as to prevent penalizing facilities that cannot comply due to the emergency.”

Nursing home leaders are happy with the delay, saying the new law would have created an undue burden for homes trying to retain and hire staff. Unions for health care workers disagree, saying the law is needed to ensure homes hire adequate staff.

The new law would have required minimum staffing standards. It would also have set a minimum of at least 70 percent of nursing home revenue to be spent on direct resident care, and at least 40 percent on staff who deal with residents.

A group of nursing home operators filed a federal suit against the law in US District Court in Albany last month, saying it amounts to an unconstitutional taking of private property.