New York State Senator Rob Ortt said in late December that he would propose a package of bills aimed at strengthening nursing home oversight in the Empire State.
The move was sparked by a series of stories published by The Buffalo News on problems at local nursing homes, as well as by complaints Ortt received from constituents, he told The Buffalo News.
One of the bills in the package would increase the New York Department of Health’s (DOH) regulatory enforcement ability, requiring the presence of independent quality monitors in failing facilities and authorizing the DOH to enter a property when officials determine that conditions could pose a danger to residents.
The legislation would also increase fines on nursing facilities that do not meet state standards, according to a release from Ortt, a Republican from upstate North Tonawanda, announcing the bills.
“We must hold our nursing homes to a higher standard,” Ortt said in a statement. “By increasing regulatory overview, we are improving lives and work environments for all parties involved.
The second bill would require 40% of nursing home inspections to be performed outside business hours — including nights, weekends, and holidays — and ban DOH employees from giving advance notice of an inspection.
Finally, the third proposed law would prevent nursing home owners from buying new properties while any of their currently owned facilities face violations or compliance issues. If passed, such owners would face a two-year probation period between resolving a violation and acquiring a new facility.
“Since I have been in office, the quality of care in the nursing homes across our state has been a persistent issue and it has continually gone unaddressed,” Ortt said in the statement. “While there are a number of facilities that continue to provide great care for our seniors, we have seen far too many cases of unacceptable care. This legislation is aimed at ensuring that those establishments we trust to take care of our aging parents are doing so to the highest standard.”