SYRACUSE (TNS) – A new state law that requires nursing homes to maintain minimum staffing levels took effect April 1 after a three-month delay caused by a shortage of health care workers.
The law requires nursing homes to provide at least 3 ½ hours of nursing care to residents daily.
Nursing home industry officials say it will be impossible for about 63% of nursing homes statewide to comply with the law because of a chronic health care worker shortage.
The new law was supposed to take effect Jan. 1.
But Gov. Kathy Hochul signed executive orders delaying implementation of the law, citing widespread shortages of nursing home workers. The law was passed last year when Andrew Cuomo was still governor.
New York Attorney General Letitia James and the 1199 SEIU healthcare workers union called on Hochul last week to enforce the law because of their concerns about nursing home understaffing.
James Clyne of LeadingAge New York, a nursing home trade group, said the staffing crisis that prompted Hochul to delay enforcing the law has not gotten any better.
He said nursing homes statewide would have to immediately hire 8,000 new workers to comply with the law.
“Those workers don’t exist,” he said.
The law calls for a maximum fine of $2,000 a day for nursing homes that don’t meet the staffing requirement.
Stephen Hanse, another nursing home lobbyist, said “it remains to be seen” how vigorously the health department will enforce the new law.
The law also requires nursing homes to spend 70% of revenue on care, with at least 40% going toward paying staff. It also limits nursing home profits to 5% of revenue.
More than 200 nursing homes statewide sued the state in federal court in December to block the regulations on nursing home spending. That lawsuit is pending.
James T. Mulder covers health and higher education. Have a news tip? Contact him at (315) 470-2245 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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