ALBANY, N.Y. – During his coronavirus update Friday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said the New York State Department of Health (DOH) will allow visitation to resume at nursing homes across the state.
"The DOH is going to put out guidance, but they recommend reopening visitation for nursing homes. This is going to be a very big deal for nursing home residents and families," said Cuomo.
The guidelines are expected to be released Monday, Feb. 22.
The new rules will be developed using guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as well as the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.
Cuomo said the DOH recommends visitors be tested before going into any nursing home facility.
"DOH is going to recommend that visitors take a rapid test before entry, and DOH will provide those rapid tests to nursing homes, cost-free," he said.
There is no specific date set for when visitation will resume under new guidelines.
In September, the DOH released guidance letting nursing homes allow visitors if the facility had been without COVID for at least 14 days. The guidelines initially said facilities had to be COVID-free for 28 days to allow visitors.
All nursing home residents statewide have been offered the coronavirus vaccine, and 73% are now vaccinated, according to Cuomo.
The governor also announced new legislation to ensure nursing homes are better prepared for another health crisis.
The legislation includes aims to increase transparency and accountability, and help prioritize patient care.
These reforms aim to increase transparency by:
- Requiring nursing homes to post their rates for each payer source on a public website, updated annually;
- Requiring the posting of all facility owners;
- Requiring the posting of a list of all contracts or other agreements entered into for provision of goods or services for which any portion of Medicaid or Medicare funds are used by the facility within 30 days of execution of the agreement; and
- Requiring information regarding staff be included in an application to establish a nursing home.
Holding Operators Accountable for Misconduct
These reforms aim to hold operators accountable for misconduct by:
- Increasing civil monetary penalties to $25,000 for violations of the Public Health Law, including increasing penalties for willful violations of Public Health Law or regulation;
- Removing the requirement to provide adult care facilities a 30-day period to rectify violations prior to imposition of a penalty; and
- Building off legislation signed by the Governor in 2019, requiring any nursing home with a repeat Infection Control Deficiency to work with the Quality Improvement Organization, or a state designated independent quality monitor, at the nursing home's own expense, to assess and resolve the facility's infection control deficiencies.
- Streamlining process to appoint a receiver to protect patient health and safety.
Prioritizing Patient Care Over Profit
These reforms aim to ensure nursing home facilities are prioritizing patient care over profits by:
- Requiring that nursing homes spend a minimum of 70 percent of revenue on direct patient care and a minimum of 40 percent of revenue on resident staffing; and
- Establishing a nursing home profit cap and limiting certain unscrupulous transactions, including but not limited to related party transactions over fair market value and payment of compensation for employees who are not actively engaged in or providing services at the nursing home.
- Limiting the overall proportion of management salaries and setting a cap by regulation, dependent on the size of the facility, for managers and executives.