The safety and dignity of vulnerable residents and care staff will greatly improve when nursing homes comply with New York’s long anticipated reforms.
April 1, 2022 – For decades, both federal and state minimum standards have mandated that nursing homes have sufficient staff, with the appropriate competencies, to meet the clinical, emotional, and psychosocial needs of every resident they admit. Nevertheless, due to inadequate enforcement, understaffing is a widespread and persistent problem in our nursing homes. Too many New York nursing homes operate at significant profit while flouting basic standards of care with impunity.
To address this problem, last year the legislature passed important legislation to ensure that nursing homes are providing at least 3.5 hours of nursing staff time per resident per day (HPRD). After an extended delay, Governor Kathy Hochul issued an executive order on Thursday to lift the pause on this staffing legislation. While this is a low threshold (the typical resident needs at least 4.1 HPRD), it will go a long way toward preventing the severe understaffing that too many residents experience when operators cut staff to the bone to maximize profits. We thank our legislators, particularly Assembly Health Committee Chair Richard Gottfried, Senate Health Committee Chair Gustavo Rivera, Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, and Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins for supporting these critical protections last year.
“Today, we thank Governor Hochul for standing up on behalf of New Yorkers, who have a right to expect that nursing homes will fulfill their promise to seniors and families,” said Richard Mollot, LTCCC’s executive director. “The time has come to stop accepting the industry’s false and indecent narrative that it cannot afford to provide sufficient staffing. As the industry’s recent lawsuit divulged, nursing homes have hundreds of millions of extra dollars floating around that can be used to provide decent working conditions for staff and living conditions for residents.”
Though highly paid industry lobbyists whine every year that they don’t make enough money to provide decent staffing and care, the truth is that:
- New York nursing homes self-report over $800 million dollars a year in excess income (https://nursinghome411.org/nys-provider-lawsuit/). This is the equivalent of over 20 million additional nurse aide hours per year!;
- For-profit operators, recognizing the potential for substantial profits, continue to buy more and more facilities;
- 75% of nursing homes use related-party transactions, a mechanism through which they can divert profits to companies they own while falsely claiming that they are operating on “razor-thin” margins;
- Staffing shortages are, in fact, the industry’s own fault. The industry has a turnover rate of over 100% a year. Is it no wonder that they cannot retain sufficient staff when they pay low wages and treat staff poorly?
While Governor Hochul’s announcement is an important step forward in improving care for vulnerable residents, conditions for vital nursing staff, and value for New York taxpayers, it is critical to remember that, regardless of whether a nursing home is meeting the state threshold of 3.5 HPRD, every nursing home is required, under federal law, to have enough staff to ensure that every resident can live safely and with dignity.
To find out the latest staffing data for nursing homes in your community, visit https://nursinghome411.org/states/ny/. For more information on resident rights, visit the Learning Center on our homepage, www.nursinghome411.org.