Legislative Bulletin: Legislature Plans a July Return to Albany
July 10, 2020
Legislative Work Expected to Continue in July
Although summer is in full swing and it appears that the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic is behind us, legislative work for the 2020 session has yet to conclude. According to a Wednesday tweet from New York 1’s Zach Fink, state lawmakers are expected to reconvene session for 4 days beginning July 20th. Neither the Senate nor the Assembly have released an official press release with such an announcement, however, this afternoon we learned that the Assembly plans to hold a series of committee meetings next week, including an Assembly Health Committee meeting.
As we await the official announcement of a July return to Albany, the Legislature will be holding a Joint Legislative Hearing on Independent Redistricting on Wednesday, July 15th. Congressional and legislative districts are redrawn once a decade based on the most recent Census. The process has been controlled by majority Democrats in the state Assembly and Republicans in the state Senate for decades in New York. The new redistricting process is expected to be somewhat different, with a new constitutional amendment in place meant to add a dose of independence to how the lines are drawn. For good-government advocates, this is a positive first step to establishing a redistricting process focused on fairness.
Meanwhile, despite the above-mentioned announcements of hearings and legislative work, there has yet to be an official announcement of a hearing on nursing home response to COVID-19. It has now been well over a month since suggestions of such a hearing began to surface, and since then lawmakers have made consistent calls for the hearing to go forward.
Although we are still not clear on when it will be, LeadingAge NY expects that there certainly will be a hearing on nursing homes and the management of COVID-19. It is with this hearing in mind that we are asking our nursing home members to please send us your positive stories!
LeadingAge NY Responds to Senate’s NH and ACF Recommendations
Last week, Senate Finance Chair Liz Krueger and 19 of her democratic colleagues sent a letter to the Governor, recommending strategies to “address some of the vulnerabilities exposed during the COVID-19 crisis at nursing homes and adult care facilities.” The Senate Majority’s letter offers a series of recommendations and concludes with expressing their support for a repeal of the Emergency or Disaster Treatment Protection Act, a law that offers protections to health care providers operating during a pandemic.
This week, LeadingAge New York responded to the Senate’s recommendations with a letter sent to Senator Krueger, the undersigned Senators, the Department of Health and the Executive. The comprehensive letter argues that the Senate’s recommendations would result in a series of new mandates on top of many pre-existing and COVID-19-related federal and state requirements that nursing homes, ACFs and home care agencies are struggling to align and satisfy in the face of exorbitant new costs and overwhelming revenue losses.
LeadingAge New York’s letter also emphasizes two issue areas which will remain a priority for the remainder of the pandemic; the need for adequate reimbursement for patient protective equipment (PPE) and testing, and the protection of the Emergency or Disaster Treatment Protection Act.
ACTION ALERT: Contact State Lawmakers as they Prepare for a Return to Legislative Work!
As we prepare for state legislative work to resume later this month, it is crucial that LeadingAge members are keeping in constant communication with their lawmakers to explain the significant challenges you have faced, and continue to face, throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
Please call your lawmakers TODAY and discuss the TWO following issue areas. Click here to find your legislators’ contact information.
Oppose Nursing Home Immunity Repeal Bill - A.10427 Rules (Kim)/S.8497 (Biaggi)
LeadingAge New York’s memo of opposition is linked here.
- 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.
The State MUST Provide Adequate Funding for PPE, Testing and other COVID Expenses
- The COVID-19 pandemic has proven to be particularly costly to non-profit long-term care providers, doing their best to serve a vulnerable population.
- While staff testing is an important aspect of infection control, it is very expensive and there is presently no source of funding to pay for it. There are approximately 185,000 workers in New York’s nursing homes and ACFs and, according to the Paraprofessional Health Institute, approximately 210,000 home care workers. At an estimated cost of $125 per test, it would cost about $50 million to administer one test per worker for all these individuals.
- A similar amount would be required to test all residents and patients in nursing homes, ACFs and home care.
- Health plans and union benefit funds have denied coverage of staff testing on the basis that it is not conducted for diagnostic or treatment purposes. Thus, the costs of testing has fallen on providers.
- PPE costs - while PPE has at times been unavailable at any price, when providers can purchase it, the costs are several times higher than they were prior to the pandemic.
- Staffing costs - backfilling work time missed due to staff quarantine requirements, added staff time needed to closely monitor residents and patients and provide care for COVID-positive individuals, and hourly pay premiums resulting from hazard pay, increased overtime, and use of more expensive per diem and staffing agency workers.
- Please also provide any compelling costs and numbers you have regarding the financial impact of the pandemic on your own organization.
- These unforeseen costs associated COVID-19 and related requirements are unsustainable for most high-quality long-term care providers and the State MUST provide adequate reimbursement to keep these providers afloat.
Send State Lawmakers COVID-19 Advocacy Letters TODAY
LeadingAge New York has updated our advocacy letters, reminding lawmakers of the many challenges long term care providers are facing, and urging them to provide appropriate support and reimbursement for COVID-related costs. There is no telling when the legislature will be back, so it is important that we keep the pressure on. Use the links below to send your lawmakers a pre-written letter today! It only takes a few clicks!
- Urge Lawmakers to Reimburse NH/ACF for Costly Testing Mandate
- Support HCBS Providers on the Front Lines of COVID-19
DOH Publishes COVID-19 Nursing Home Infections and Fatalities Report
The Department of Health (DOH) released a report on Monday, July 6th that concludes that COVID-19 was more likely to have been introduced into nursing homes by asymptomatic employees than by infected patients admitted from hospitals. Entitled "Factors Associated with Nursing Home Infections and Fatalities in New York State During the COVID-19 Global Health Crisis," the report disputes the claim that the Department’s March 25th directive prohibiting nursing homes from denying admission solely on the basis of COVID-19 infection was to blame for the transmission of the virus in facilities.
LeadingAge NY published an article reviewing the report in this week’s Intelligence. The article is available here.
Urge Congress to Pass the Healthcare Workforce Resilience Act!
The COVID-19 global health crisis has already taken a severe toll on LeadingAge members, and one ongoing issue for many providers across the country is staffing. Please contact your member of Congress TODAY and ask them to cosponsor the Healthcare Workforce Resilience Act (S. 3599 /H.R. 6788).
This bipartisan bill will allow the entry of nurses with approved immigrant visas and allows physicians with immigrant petitions to adjust their status. The bill will allow nurses and physicians to help our nation fight the coronavirus and have lawful immigration status. Because the Healthcare Workforce Resilience Act allows immigrant nurses to assist with COVID-19 patients, LeadingAge members across the post-acute and long-term care continuum could benefit, especially those with a growing need for staff to address the pandemic.
Under the proposed bill, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) would recapture up to 25,000 immigrant visas for nurses and 15,000 visas for physicians – along with visas for their families. Finally, the bill will require an attestation that the immigrant medical professional has not displaced and will not displace a United States worker.
Urge Congress to Include Affordable Housing Provisions in Next COVID-19 Relief Package
The $1.2 billion in financial support provided by the Emergency Housing Assistance for Older Adults Act (S. 4177, H.R. 6873) must be included in Congress’ next COVID-19 relief package. There are more than 700,000 older adults in HUD-assisted housing, and they need this support.
S. 4177 and H.R. 6873 would provide key relief for affordable senior housing communities navigating the impacts of the coronavirus crisis, including:
- $845 million for COVID-19 costs related to services, staffing, disinfecting, PPE, and other costs.
- $300 million to support existing and new Service Coordinators and to help them prevent, prepare for, and respond to COVID-19.
- $50 million for wireless internet installation and service fees in resident units.
- $7 million for a 1-year extension of HUD’s Integrated Wellness in Supportive Housing demonstration.
Contact: Ami Schnauber; 518.867.8854; firstname.lastname@example.org
Sarah Daly; 518.867.8845; email@example.com