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State begins enforcement of nursing home staffing minimums amid secrecy

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  • Staff Report 

The State of New York has initiated its nursing home staffing enforcement in July, years after the passage of the 2021 legislation mandating minimum staffing requirements.

Finger Lakes Partners (Billboard)

The State Health Department, in its recent action, sent warning letters to nursing homes violating this law. However, despite requests from the public and media, the department hasn’t disclosed the names of the noncompliant facilities, reasoning that the facilities could challenge the violation notices.

Advocacy groups and family members of nursing home residents emphasize the importance of enforcing this law, especially as the COVID-19 death toll linked to these homes has reached 340 this year, in addition to the more than 15,000 deaths recorded earlier in the pandemic.

Trade groups representing nursing homes claim approximately 75% of these facilities are struggling to meet the mandated staffing requirements. They attribute this inability to perceived issues with the staffing standards and broader national labor shortages.

The state law stipulates that each facility must provide daily staffing hours amounting to 3.5 hours of care per resident.

It further mandates nursing homes to allocate at least 70% of their revenue towards direct resident care and a minimum of 40% on resident-facing staffing. Despite the enforcement measures, it remains unclear how much the penalties for non-compliance might be reduced during the declared labor shortage period.