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Nursing Home Workers ‘Raise Concerns About The Implementation’ Of New York's Staffing Law, Say ‘Proposed Regulations & Misguided Industry Pushback Are Obstacles’

Published Friday, September 9, 2022
by 1199 SEIU News
Nursing Home Workers ‘Raise Concerns About The Implementation’ Of New York's Staffing Law, Say ‘Proposed Regulations & Misguided Industry Pushback Are Obstacles’

(ALBANY, NEW YORK) – 1199 Service Employees International Union (SEIU), the largest Union of Health Care Workers in the country, has serious concerns about implementing New York's Nursing Home Staffing Law.

For two years, the public praised Nursing Home Workers and low wage Caregivers as the heroes of the COVID Pandemic - yet, they are being driven away from the bedside by employers providing inadequate wages and benefits.

In addition, nursing home owners are not implementing effective recruitment/retention policies and practices, Union Officials said.

Consequently, they are forcing Staff to work in facilities with an insufficient number of Caregivers and Workers to provide quality care, they add.  

In response to serious deficiencies in the Nursing Home Industry revealed during the first 18 months of the COVID Pandemic, in 2021, the New York State Legislature passed, and Governor Andrew Cuomo signed into law, Minimum Staffing Standards for nursing homes.

The law requires nursing home owners and operators to provide an average of 3.5 hours of daily care to residents, 2.2 hours delivered by Nurse Aides and 1.1 hours delivered by Licensed Registered Nurses and Licensed Practical Nurses.

The balance can be provided by either Aides or Licensed Staff.

The law also set a daily requirement for meeting the standard.

Failure to meet the benchmark would result in monetary penalties for each day below the standard.

The Obstacles: The law was to take effect on January 1st, 2022, but enactment faced challenges as the pandemic raged on, and Governor Kathy Hochul chose to delay implementation under an Executive Disaster Emergency Order.

However, the Governor didn't renew the Executive Order on April 1st, and the law finally took effect.

The statute requires the law's compliance to be enforced through a quarterly review of staffing data issued by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS).

As a consequence of the delay, when CMS released data for the first quarter of 2022 in July, the data reflected the period before the law was in effect.

The report was disappointing, 1199 SEIU Representatives said. 

In 2021, before the law's passage, about 50% of the State's nursing homes were meeting the 3.5-hour standard, and 50% were not.

The July report indicated that even more nursing homes were not meeting the standard in 2022.

Only 27% had an average staffing level of 3.5 hours or above.

It also showed that New York's national staffing level ranks 44 out of 50 states, illustrating the need for a legal minimum standard.

Without a standard, too many employers staff their nursing homes with as few Workers as possible, Union Officials said.

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