Last month, a provision passed in the state budget that requires nursing homes to use at least 70% of their total revenues on direct patient care, and of that 70%, almost half, 40%, now needs to be used for staffing. 

Tuesday, the legislature took another step to protect seniors. Both houses passed a Rivera/Gunther bill (S.6346/A.7119) requiring nursing homes to have enough staff for each resident to receive at least three and a half hours of direct care each day.   

Passage comes in the wake of an alarming report issued by the Office of the State Attorney General in January on multiple issues including deaths at nursing homes around the state during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

While some unions, including the powerful 1199 SEIU, support the legislation, a group of advocacy organizations has some serious concerns. 

The coalition includes AARP, the nation’s largest nonprofit and nonpartisan organization dedicated to Americans over 50, as well as the Long-Term Care Community Coalition; the Center for Elder Law & Justice; Metro Justice; the Coalition of Institutionalized Aged and Disabled; and the Community Service Society of New York. 

“Much more is needed to better protect our seniors residing in nursing homes to ensure they receive the best care possible,” AARP’s Beth Finkel told Capital Tonight. “The bill really misses the mark.”

The coalition had been pushing for the following changes to the bill:

  • Requiring nursing facilities to have at least one registered nurse (RN) provide .75 hours of care per resident per day - recognizing that increased RN staffing hours correlate to better quality outcomes.
  • Requiring an RN in the building 24/7.
  • Including a requirement to maintain all nursing staff at 4.1 hours per day per resident. This is the threshold identified by an important federal study as necessary just to provide for the basic clinical needs of nursing home residents.
  • Including clear enforcement guidelines with penalties for facilities not complying with nursing home staffing levels.

AARP also recommends that family members with loved ones in a nursing home be prepared to ask the home eight key questions, including “Is the nursing home currently at full staffing levels for nurses, aides and other workers?

For more information on the eight questions to ask nursing homes, click here.