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Legislative Bulletin: Bill Sponsors Host Town Hall on Nursing Home Immunity Repeal Legislation

June 12, 2020

CALL TO ACTION: Sponsors Host Town Hall on Nursing Home Immunity Repeal Bill

LeadingAge New York is tracking bill A.10427 Rules (Kim)/S.8497 (Biaggi) which would repeal the Emergency or Disaster Treatment Protection Act. This critically important legislation provides health care providers and professionals with reasonable immunity from liability during the COVID-19 pandemic emergency. Unfortunately, we have noticed that discussions around the bill have largely focused on Nursing Homes and the lives lost during the pandemic.

This afternoon, the bill’s sponsors Senator Biaggi and Assembly Member Kim hosted a Town Hall Press Event to hear directly from family members that believe they lost a loved one to neglect during the pandemic.

Although the bill has not yet moved out of Assembly and Senate Health Committees and the Legislature has yet to announce a return to session, we believe that this town hall event and the level of participation is an indication that the bill could move quickly. In addition, a second bill (A.10621) was introduced this week which would repeal immunity protections specifically for nursing home executives and stakeholders.

CALL TO ACTION: Please contact your lawmakers TODAY and urge them to oppose A.10427/S.8497. Please call your lawmakers and relay the following talking points! After you call and speak to a staff person, we recommend also sending an email as a follow-up. Click here to find your legislators’ contact information.

Nursing Home Immunity Repeal Talking Points:

  • The Emergency or Disaster Treatment Protection Act is critically important legislation which provides health care providers and professionals with reasonable immunity from liability during the COVID-19 pandemic emergency. It is important to note that the immunity is provided only for good faith provision of care consistent with the law and the state’s directives.
  • Nursing homes, adult care facilities, and other aging services providers have been engaged in selfless and heroic work throughout the pandemic, caring for residents who are particularly vulnerable to this devastating virus.
  • They have been working under extraordinarily challenging conditions, with reduced staff and fewer resources than other healthcare provider types that were made priority at the height of the pandemic.
  • This legislation would subject all health care facilities and caregivers to civil and criminal liability for the care they have provided during the pandemic, even if they acted in good faith in spite of circumstances beyond their control, such as systemic shortages of personal protective equipment (PPE) and employee/patient testing, staffing disruptions due to quarantining COVID-positive or suspected workers, and constantly changing and often conflicting directives from the state and federal governments.
  • Repealing the Protection Act puts hard working staff and direct care workers at risk of liability. These staff have sacrificed more than most of us during this pandemic. They have worked long hours and risked their own health and safety with every shift. Many have had to  distance themselves from their own families in order to best care for their residents. Putting these heroes at risk of potential legal action is both unfair and unreasonable.
  • Mission-driven not-for-profit and public providers have not shied away from the hardest cases – indeed, they proudly deliver care to the most vulnerable, much as they have done for generations – they view it as their responsibility to care for individuals living with COVID and to provide them critical support in their time of need. To deny protection for these organizations and their heroic front-line workers during such an unprecedented and extraordinary time would be incredibly unfair and shortsighted.   
  • For these reasons, I urge you to reject A.10427/S.8497, A.10621, and any similar legislation.

LeadingAge New York’s memo of opposition to A.10427/S.8497 is linked here.

Thank you in advance for your advocacy and please reach out with any questions or concerns.

 

What’s Next for State Legislature

The Legislature returned to session this week to take up a package of criminal justice reform legislation. The package of bills passed in both houses and was signed by the Governor during his Friday morning press conference. The “Say Their Name” Reform Agenda Package includes repealing 50-a, banning chokeholds, prohibiting race-based 911 calls, and appointing the Attorney General as independent prosecutor for police involved deaths.

LeadingAge New York was prepared and watching for any COVID-19 related legislation to move. Fortunately, no new legislation was acted upon this week that would impact long term care and aging services providers. However, when the Legislature gaveled out of session, they once again adjourned at the call of the Speaker and Temporary President. There also were no customary end-of-session speeches.

We expect that the Legislature will be back before the end of the 2020 calendar year. However, whether a return to session will happen in the late summer or fall remains to be seen.

 

Urge Lawmakers to Reimburse Providers for Costly Testing Mandate!

Thank you to those that have already sent testing mandate letters to your lawmakers and the Department of Health (DOH)! Thanks to your advocacy, the DOH has reduced the weekly staff testing mandate to only once per week for facilities located in regions that are in phase 2 or higher of reopening.

This is a step in the right direction; however, we recognize that there is still work to be done regarding this testing mandate. While testing staff only once per week will be less burdensome than the previous twice-weekly requirement, there is still a significant cost to providers who wish to comply with this and other requirements. We must continue to urge the State to reimburse providers for the costs associated with the weeks-long testing mandate!

If you have not done so already, we encourage members to please send the below linked letters to their lawmakers, the Department of Health and the Executive. As you will see, the letters are in word format so that members can fill in the highlighted areas with their own specific costs and experiences:

Please send your letter to the following recipients:

Thank you again for your advocacy during this unprecedented time.

 

Urge Congress to Provide Immediate Relief to Aging Services Providers

Aging services providers across the country are struggling to obtain ample personal protective equipment, adequate testing and resources for older Americans during this crisis. Congress needs to provide immediate relief, but won’t take action unless they hear stories from providers about the issues they are facing during the pandemic.

Click here to use your voice and tell Congress why action is urgently needed! You can also:

  1. Schedule a virtual congressional meeting with your members of Congress. Your local congressional office wants to hear from you. Your story is very powerful in educating our leaders on what is needed. Visit LeadingAge's virtual congressional meeting page  for resources to set up your meeting and tell your story. 
  2. Make a phone call and send a personalized message to your members of Congress.
  3. Share the call to action link on your social media platforms! We need everyone to urge Congress to support aging service providers and to share stories about the impact of having limited resources in their communities. Be sure to use #Act4OlderLives in your social media posts.

 

LeadingAge NY Heroes Page

LeadingAge NY knows that our members and their front line staff are doing heroic work. We want to make sure that the public knows that as well.  That’s why we created a webpage and video to highlight the heroic long term care workers that are serving our most vulnerable.

Click here to visit the site and see some of the inspirational things our members are doing to care for the elderly. Also, feel free to share the page on your own website or social media!

To have your facility included in our next video, or to be featured on our website or social media, send your story and photo submissions to Jacqueline Colafemina at jcolafemina@leadingageny.org. We want to include and thank everyone!

 

LeadingAge & LeadingAge NY Coronavirus Resources

LeadingAge NY is closely following all COVID-19 news and doing our best to keep members informed of updates, recommendations and guidelines from the Department of Health (DOH). We encourage members to keep an eye out for email updates as well as visit our Coronavirus Resources page for the latest news and guidance. We also have re-organized our Member Q&A website so members can more easily navigate and search by service line. 

LeadingAge NY is hosting COVID-19 Weekly Update calls, which are held on Mondays from 11 am – 12 pm. You can click here to join the call from your computer, android or apple device. Or you can join the call by dialing in: 877 853 5257 (Toll Free); Webinar ID: 852 964 255.

LeadingAge National is also providing helpful resources to keep members informed of the latest. National resources include:

 

Contact: Ami Schnauber; 518.867.8854; aschnauber@leadingageny.org

               Sarah Daly; 518.867.8845; sdaly@leadingageny.org