New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand proposed a new federal law aimed at improving staff levels at nursing homes across the country. According to Sen. Gillibrand, the impetus for the new legislation on nursing homes comes from a bipartisan report released this summer, which detailed widespread problems at nursing homes across the state and country. Speaking to reporters, the New York Senator said, “Unfortunately, a report came out on nursing homes and long-term care facilities that have had problems, and 17 are located in New York State.”
Sen. Gillibrand is referring to the 488 nursing home facilities across the country which the report found a “persistent record of poor care.” Currently, the federal government only applies extra scrutiny on 88 so-called “special focus facilities” across the country. This leaves 400 nursing homes with records of abuse and neglect without sufficient oversight.
According to Sen. Gillibrand, insufficient and incompetent staffing is one of the root causes of the poor performance and conditions at these nursing homes. The bill she proposed in the Senate last month aims to fix that problem. The bill, which has bipartisan backing and is sponsored by Colorado Republican Cory Gardner, would expand access to Medicare and Medicaid data to “nursing homes, home health agencies, and hospice programs,” reports The Buffalo News. The bill, called Promote Responsible Oversight and Targeted Employee Background Check Transparency for Seniors (PROTECTS) Act, would improve the standard of living at nursing homes by “bringing more transparency to workforce quality,” says Sen. Gillibrand.
If passed into law, the bill could solve a long-running problem in New York nursing homes where staff problems have endangered residents. In June 2018, The Buffalo News reported that a nursing home resident died after falling out of a third-floor window, which investigators said was easily preventable if the facility had enough staff to monitor the patients. Poorly trained or criminal staffers have also caused problems in New York. Earlier this year, a nursing home victim said she was sexually assaulted, which nursing home employees waited a full six hours to report to the police. By then, evidence of the crime had been mostly destroyed.
The bipartisan bill is supported by nursing home advocates, such as the American Health Care Association and the National Association for Home Care and Hospice. Speaking to the upstate newspaper, Dr. David Gifford, senior vice president of quality and regulatory affairs at the American Health Care Association said “Access to the National Practitioner Data Bank is a significant step toward helping [nursing homes] more effectively and efficiently screen potential employees for histories of disciplinary problems from all 50 states.”
The attorneys at the Law Offices of Thomas L. Gallivan, PLLC work diligently to protect the rights of nursing home residents. Please contact us to discuss in the event you have a potential case involving neglect or abuse.