The AARP in New York on Wednesday called for the inclusion of a five-point plan for overhauling nursing home policy in New York, including a full repeal of an immunity provisions first granted last year to the facilties. 

The proposals come amid an ongoing controversy over nursing homes in New York and the Cuomo administration's handling of death toll data in long-term care facilities during the COVID-19 pandemic. That, in turn, is leading to calls for changes to bolster nursing homes and protect residents during this crisis and in future pandemics. 

“The nursing home crisis is front and center in this state, as it should be; now, through the state Budget, is the time and way to end it,” said AARP New York State Director Beth Finkel. “We should not waste this golden opportunity to improve safety and conditions for our mothers, fathers, grandparents, spouses, and other loved ones in New York’s nursing homes - and for the staff who care for them.”

Immunity from lawsuits was granted to nursing homes, but partially repealed. Immunity is still in place for the springtime, during the worst of the first surge and when 9,000 COVID-positive patients were transferred into the facilities, according to the Associated Press. 

The AARP is also seeking a boost for quality care protections, including a staff increase for the longterm care ombudsman program. 

At the same time, the group called for improved transparency in reporting on fatalities and infectious disease rates among staff, as well as more funding for community-based and home services. 

And the group wants a full visitation plan to ensure safe interaction with residents and guests. 

“What has happened to our loved ones in nursing homes during the past 11 months is a tragedy,” Finkel said. “AARP New York stands ready to work with the governor and Legislature to ensure it stops now and never happens again.”