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Recently Signed Bills Include New Requirements for Nursing Homes

LeadingAge NY nursing home members should be aware of two new laws requiring public disclosure of certain facility characteristics and actions. The first, Chapter 141 of the Laws of 2021, requires disclosure of establishment applications, ownership, and contracts for goods and services. The second, Chapter 441 of the Laws of 2021, requires the posting of the nursing home's most recent Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) star rating.

Disclosure of Establishment Applications, Ownership, and Contracts for Goods and Services

Chapter 141 of the Laws of 2021, A.7517 (Gottfried)/S.6767 (Rivera), was signed into law in June and includes requirements that will be effective as of Thurs., Oct. 21st. It was drafted as chapter amendments to a bill that was enacted earlier in the 2021 Legislative Session, A.5684-A/S.4893-A. While these new requirements appear intended to address a lack of transparency and potential diversion of funds among proprietary facilities, they also affect non-profit and public providers. The chapter amendments go further than the original bill, imposing certain requirements in relation to establishment applications:

  • Nursing home operators must provide notice to residents, staff, and union representatives within 30 days of the acknowledgment of an application to the Department of Health (DOH) for "establishment" (which would include a change in ownership, merger, or active parent arrangement);
  • New operators must retain all employees, except those discharged for cause and except for the administrator and other supervisors, and maintain the compensation of employees for a 60-day transition period;
  • Applicants for establishment must provide the Department with information related to staffing, source of staffing, and staff skill mix.

Notably, the chapter amendments also impose new disclosure requirements on nursing homes, requiring them to:

  • Post on their website maximum rates to be charged for residency and services, on an annual basis no later than April 1 of each year, including rates for each non-governmental payer source.
  • Publicly list all owners on their website, submit the list to the Department for posting, and update the list within 30 days of any change;
  • Post on the website and update the name and business address of any landlord of the facility's premises;
  • Publicly provide "a summary of all contracts for provision of goods or services for which such facility pays with any portion of Medicaid or Medicare funds or other agreements entered into by the nursing home on its website within thirty days of execution of such agreement or contract."

As previously reported, regulations governing the establishment provisions of the bill were recently presented to the Public Health and Health Planning Council (PHHPC). However, neither regulations nor any guidance have been released governing the disclosure requirements. We have sought guidance from the Executive Branch on their expectations but have not received any response. In the absence of any direction from DOH, we recommend that members take reasonable steps to comply with the requirements. We recognize that the requirement to post a summary of potentially hundreds of contracts and update it every time a new contract is executed is particularly onerous. Members may want to consider posting a simple list of their vendors and contractors, or a summary of their top four or five vendors by dollar value, or a statement summarizing the types of contracts they enter into, along with contact information for those who would like additional detail. At this time, we do not know whether any of these strategies will satisfy the Department.

Disclosure of CMS Star Ratings

The second bill, Chapter 441 of the Laws of 2021 [A.2037 (Dinowitz)/S.553 (Sanders)], was signed by the Governor on Oct. 8th and will take effect Jan. 6, 2022, the 90th day after signing. The bill requires the most recent CMS star rating of every nursing home to be prominently displayed on the home page of the DOH website and at each nursing home. Nursing homes are required to post their overall star rating on their website home page and to "conspicuously post" their most recent overall star rating "so that it is visible to the general public and residents."

LeadingAge NY circulated a memo of opposition to this bill and sent a letter to the Governor requesting that it be vetoed. Our opposition to the bill was on the basis that it imposed yet another administrative requirement on nursing homes without meaningfully contributing to the quality of resident care or the information available to consumers.

Contact: Sarah Daly, sdaly@leadingageny.org, 518-867-8845