Photo Courtesy of Sen. Biaggi’s Office
State Sen. Alessandra Biaggi
By Michael V. Cusenza
The New York State Senate recently passed the Treatment Protection Act that repeals previous immunity protections that prevented health care facilities, administrators, and executives from being held accountable for harm and damages incurred at facilities. In addition, this package will make sure residents have necessary information on the Long-term Care Ombudsman Program, require that the patients’ bill of rights is offered in the Empire State’s six most-spoken languages, and make information related to nursing home assets and operations publicly available.
Last Wednesday’s bills build on legislation passed last month to better support and protect nursing home residents, according to Senate leadership. The Senate Majority also held joint statewide public hearings this past year on residential health care facilities and COVID-19 to discuss various issues and concerns directly with the public.
The legislation being passed by the Senate includes:
Emergency or Disaster Treatment Protection Act: This bill, S.5177, sponsored by Senator Alessandra Biaggi, repeals the extra protections from liability granted to nursing homes, hospitals, and other healthcare facilities for treating patients during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Mandatory Translation of Rights and Information on Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program: This bill, S.4377, sponsored by Sen. Rachel May, mandates a prominent display to inform residents of the Long-term Care Ombudsman Program and requires the Department of Health to translate the nursing home residents’ bill of rights into the six most common non-English languages spoken in New York.
Improved Certificate of Need Process: This bill S.4893A, sponsored by Sen. Gustavo Rivera, will reform the review process for change of ownership or operations proposals brought before the Public Health and Health planning Council. This added transparency ensures nursing home assets and ownership information are made public.
“During the early months of the pandemic, the Legislature granted healthcare facilities broad corporate immunity stripping grieving families of their right to seek proper legal recourse and potentially incentivizing nursing home executives to cut corners. Now knowing that we would lose over 13,000 nursing home residents to COVID-19, we have a duty to right this wrong and fully repeal the remaining protections. I’m proud to sponsor S.5177 and vote for this legislative package in honor of the thousands of New Yorkers we lost in nursing homes and their grieving families looking for answers,” said State Sen. Alessandra Biaggi (D-Bronx).
Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins added, “The tragic situation in nursing homes during the COVID-19 pandemic has exposed a dire need to guarantee greater transparency and accountability. This legislation, in addition to the nursing home-related reforms recently advanced by the Senate Democratic Majority, continues our strong commitment to prioritizing the wellbeing, rights, and needs of residents and their families. I thank the sponsors for their work on these pressing issues, and we will continue to find ways to improve these facilities.”