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Legislative Bulletin: Legislature Shifts Its Focus to Criminal Justice Reform as State Moves Forward with Reopening

June 5, 2020

ACTION ALERT: Urge Lawmakers to Reconsider Costly Testing Mandate for NH and ACFs!

Over the last several months, long-term care providers and the vulnerable populations they serve have been severely impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. Nursing homes and adult care facilities (ACFs) specifically have faced numerous operational and regulatory challenges around testing, patient protective equipment (PPE), staffing, and more. These regulatory and logistical challenges have been accompanied by significant financial burdens, such as the costs of meeting the recent staff testing requirement laid out in Executive Order 202.30.

LeadingAge New York has drafted a series of letters, written from different points of view, urging the State and lawmakers to provide funding for staff testing and other COVID-19 related costs. We have also drafted a new letter written from the perspective of direct care workers, which highlights the problems with the testing mandate and the contrast in support that long term care providers have received versus other provider types.

The letters are in word format so that members can fill in the highlighted areas with their own specific costs and experiences:

We strongly encourage members to take a few minutes to email these letters to the Executive, the Department of Health and State lawmakers. Appropriate contact information is linked below:

After sending your letters, please encourage your staff, peers and board members to do the same. Your advocacy is critical as the Legislature prepares for next week’s return to Albany.SIf for any reason you have isue downloading the letters, please contact Sarah Daly at sdaly@leadingageny.org

 

LeadingAge New York Issues Staff Testing Survey

As we continue to advocate for a rational testing strategy and for reimbursement of testing costs, we are grateful to the many nursing home and ACF/AL members who provided critical insights by completing the 10-Minute Staff Testing Survey created and distributed by LeadingAge NY earlier this week. For those who have yet to complete it, we ask that you do so at your first opportunity and thank you in advance for your participation.  The questions require no research and it took most participants about 5 minutes to answer them.  The link to the survey is here.

From the 150 responses so far, we were able to gauge that about 10 percent of members are having difficulty accessing the appropriate number of tests, a situation that should be resolved by the State’s intention to provide additional supplies.  A number of homes report negative impacts on staff morale and staff members being unavailable to work due to test results, while some report staff testing costs exceeding $100,000 per week.  Additionally, 40 percent of responding nursing homes reported that 5 or more workers are unable to work due to the pandemic. All of this is critical information that helps inform our discussions with policymakers and we thank you again for your input.

 

Legislature Shifts Its Focus to Criminal Justice Reform

After an eventful weekend of protests and calls for criminal justice reform, Senate and Assembly leadership announced on Monday that they would be returning to Albany next week to take up a package of bills to address “the issues occurring in our communities that have caused so much unrest.”

While criminal justice reform and a potential repeal of 50A - a Civil Rights Law statute considered to block public access to the disciplinary records of police officers - will be a clear focus of next week’s legislative work, it is also likely that some COVID-19 related legislation will also be addressed. Senate and Assembly Majorities are conferencing today, and we expect a flurry of new bills to be introduced over the weekend. These bills, after “aging” for three days, will then be open for legislative action during next week’s session. LeadingAge New York will be on the look-out for any legislation impacting long-term care and aging services.

One bill already in print that threatens movement is A.10427 (Kim), a bill that would repeal the Emergency or Disaster Treatment Protection Act. The act provides health care providers and professionals with reasonable immunity from liability during the COVID-19 pandemic emergency and it must not be repealed. LeadingAge NY has issued a memo on the bill and has spoken on the issue in the press. Members are encouraged to contact their lawmakers, urging them to reject A.10427 and explain the importance of the Emergency or Disaster Treatment Protection Act!

 

Engage with Lawmakers TODAY, Ahead of Next Week's Return to Session

As we gear up for another fast-paced week of legislative action, it is crucial that members continue to connect with lawmakers. Pease call lawmakers TODAY and share your story! Click here to find your legislator’s contact information. While on the phone, you can discuss the following issues that may or may not be impacting your specific organization:

  • Inadequate supply of patient protective equipment (PPE)
  • Overwhelming number of COVID-19 patients
  • Staffing shortages
  • Testing requirements
  • Cohorting challenges (not having enough staff, COVID units are full, etc)
  • Current financing challenges and the need for financial support
  • Reactive policy making from the Executive and Department of Health
  • The inability to get answers and clarification in a timely manner

In your conversations with legislative offices, make sure you are clear and speaking specifically to your organization’s situation and what your biggest issues are in the fight against coronavirus.

Thank you for your advocacy efforts during this unprecedented time! It will make all the difference in providers receiving the support they need!

 

New Bill Establishes Five-Year Capital Spending Plan for Affordable Housing

Assembly Housing Committee Chair Steven Cymbrowitz and Senate Housing Committee Chair Brian Kavanagh have introduced A.10576/S.8488, a bill that would require the establishment of a five-year capital spending plan for New York State Homes and Community Renewal effective April 1, 2022, and every fifth fiscal year thereafter. LeadingAge New York and its partners have been part of the conversation with Chairman Cymbrowitz advocating for this plan and are thrilled by the introduction of this bill. It is a clear recognition of the importance of establishing a five-year plan to combat the uncertainty within the affordable housing development community that occurs when there is no guarantee of continued funding at the close of a yearly spending plan.

LeadingAge New York will share a call-to-action on this issue in the coming weeks.

 

Engaging Residents and Families in Advocacy

Earlier this week, Governor Cuomo recognized longtime Wartburg Therapeutic Recreation Director Ms. Michaela Byrnes for her work in resident and family communication during visitation restrictions and Wartburg’s pandemic response efforts. As the Wartburg press release explains, the recognition from the Governor was prompted by a letter that he received from a family member of a Wartburg resident.

This story is a powerful reminder of the great potential for successful advocacy when we engage with our residents and families! Over the weekend, LeadingAge New York will be drafting materials to help our members better facilitate this resident/family advocacy, particularly on the issue of resident visitation guidance. Keep an eye out for more advocacy letters to come next week!

 

LeadingAge NY Draws Attention to LTC Heroes

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.

Visit https://www.ltcheroes.org/ to see some of the inspirational things our members are doing to care for the elderly, and 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 story and picture 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