New York lawmakers plan to strengthen oversight of the state’s nursing home industry with a package of two bills introduced in Albany this month. According to Sen. Robert Ortt, an upstate Republican, the first bill would forbid the New York Department of Health from approving nursing home owners with a record of providing poor care. The second bill would require 40 percent of all inspections conducted by the Department of Health to be conducted outside regular business hours. Sen. Ortt also plans to introduce a third bill later this year which would strengthen the Department of Health’s oversight power and require an independent third party to monitor all failing nursing homes in the state. According to the lawmaker, the third bill still needs an additional sponsor before it can be introduced in Albany.
In an informative interview with Skilled Nursing News, Sen. Ortt expounds on the three bills and the problems facing the New York’s nursing home industry. According to the state senator, New York’s nursing home industry lacks accountability and New York’s vulnerable senior citizens are not receiving the quality of care they deserve. For example, when a nursing home fails a state inspection then the facility’s owners and the Department of Health create a “corrective action plan” outlining corrective actions for each violation. However, the state agency does not monitor whether the facility implements the plan. The Department of Health only finds out if the nursing home corrected their violations at the next inspection.
The new legislation also confronts the increasing number of nursing homes owned by large corporations and operating for profit. Under the second bill introduced in Albany, a nursing home owner with “significant compliance issues” in any of their existing facilities would not be allowed to purchase or assume ownership of any nursing home in New York. According to Sen. Ortt, this bill will prevent the current problem of “prospective [owners] coming here to buy a bunch of nursing homes for the sole sake of making as much money as they can while putting little money into these facilities and providing substandard care.” The bill will also increase fines on nursing homes so nursing homes do not simply ignore regulations when the cost of compliance is higher than the regulatory fine.