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Legislative Bulletin: The Legislature's Long-awaited Return to Albany

May 29, 2020

Legislature Returns to Albany Following Extended Break

The Legislature returned to Albany this week, partially remotely, to take up bills in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Legislative work began on Tuesday with several committee meetings, including Senate and Assembly Health and Labor committees. The Legislature then reconvened session on Wednesday afternoon, working into the late evening hours. The legislative action was robust and rapid, passing over 30 bills within two session days. A number of these bills created new protections for renters, including the Emergency Rent Relief Act of 2020.

While there are several COVID-19 related bills that LeadingAge NY has been tracking and advocating against, two made it to the Senate and Assembly floors this week and were passed by the Legislature. First, A.10394-A Lentol/S.8289-B Salazar would require nursing homes to submit an annual pandemic emergency plan to the commissioner of health. It was clear that the Legislature wanted to pass this bill. LeadingAge NY got word of the bill’s movement last Friday and requested amendments to the Legislature on Friday afternoon. Fortunately, thanks to our advocacy, several of our suggested amendments were adopted in the final version of the legislation. LeadingAge NY’s memo of concern on the final version is linked here.  

The second bill is broader, impacting all health care providers. Bill A.10326-A (Reyes)/S.8397-A (Savino) would prohibit health care employers from penalizing employees because of complaints of employer violations. This “whistleblower” bill may have some implications for long-term care providers, however, upon closer examination, LeadingAge NY determined that, due to federal  protections already in place through the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) and Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the bill is mostly symbolic.

The Legislature adjourned late Thursday evening at the call of the Speaker and Temporary President. As it stands, the Legislature is well-poised to return with bills on Third Reading in both chambers and bill-drafting has not slowed down its pace introducing new legislation. There has been no indication of when exactly the Legislature might return, however, LeadingAge NY will continue to track legislation and will be issuing action alerts and memos as necessary. Stay tuned.

 

ACTION ALERT: Urge Lawmakers to Reimburse NH & ACF for Costly Testing Mandate!

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 letter, urging lawmakers to provide funding for staff testing and/or other COVID-19 related costs. The letter is in template 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 this letter to the Executive, the Department of Health and State lawmakers.

Emails can be sent to:

Additionally, the draft letter can be used as talking points while speaking directly to legislative staff over the phone. We encourage members to call lawmakers 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 COVID-19.

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

 

LeadingAge NY Members in the News

This week, two LeadingAge NY members of the Buffalo area were interviewed by WBEN (Buffalo News Radio Station) regarding Executive Order 202.30 and the twice-weekly COVID-19 testing mandate for all nursing home and ACF staff.

During his interview President and CEO of Bristol Home and Bristol Village, Mike Helbringer, explained that, “in a perfect world everybody should be fully tested before entering any of these facilities on a daily basis – if the results were immediate, if cost wasn’t an issue and things like that. But in our case, for instance…what we’re finding from the labs that I’ve spoken with, is that employees are not even going to have their results of their test when they go for their second of two weekly tests.”

Mr. Helbringer then goes on to explain the proactive infection control and testing policies that Bristol Homes has followed thus far. Policies which have allowed his organization to keep residents and staff safe from the virus, without twice-weekly mandatory staff testing.

Niagara Lutheran Health System President and CEO, Chris Koenig, was also interviewed by WBEN this week. Both interviews are available here.

Members are encouraged to engage with the press and share the great work you are doing to keep members safe! Members can contact Ami Schnauber at aschnauber@leadingageny.org with any questions about media messaging, etc.

 

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