New Protections, Fought for by AARP NJ
More than 8,000 New Jersey residents and staff of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities have died from COVID-19. This is a tragedy that should never have happened and one we must ensure never happens again.
AARP New Jersey has been fighting to protect residents and staff in long-term care facilities and fighting to save seniors' lives.
In 2020 and 2021, Governor Murphy enacted eight bills to reform long-term care facilities:
- S2790/A4476 – Establishes certain requirements concerning the state's preparedness and response regarding infectious disease outbreaks, epidemics and pandemics affecting long-term care centers, including by creating a Long Term Care Emergency Operations Center in the New Jersey Department of Health to serve as a centralized command and resource center for response efforts.
- S2787/A4481 – Establishes the New Jersey Task Force on Long-Term Care Quality and Safety, which will develop recommendations to make changes in the long-term care system to improve care and resident and staff safety, among others.
- S2758/A4482 – Raises the minimum wage for direct care staff in long-term care facilities.
- S2813/A4547 – Authorizes temporary rate adjustment for certain nursing facilities; appropriates $62.3 million.
- S2712/A4652 – Establishes minimum direct care staff-to-resident ratios in nursing homes.
- S2785/A4007 – Requires the Department of Health to implement and oversee Isolation Prevention Project in long-term care facilities during public emergencies. Requires virtual visitation when in-person visitation is suspended.
- S2545/A4288 – Establishes certain requirements concerning rights of LGBTQI and HIV positive residents of long-term care facilities.
- S2789/A4477 – Establishes more transparency and accountability by revising licensure, operational and reporting requirements for long-term care facilities.
These bills make significant and necessary improvements to protect residents and staff at New Jersey nursing homes and other long-term care facilities.
We are also urging lawmakers to enact:
- S2786/A4483 – Allows per-diem employees in long-term care to earn paid sick leave. Passed in the Senate. Yet to be posted for Assembly floor vote.
- S2759/A4478 – Requires the Department of Health to establish a system of actions and penalties for long-term care facilities in violation of state and federal requirements, creates reporting requirements, and establishes a Long-Term Care Facility Advisory Council for oversight and communication with the public. Passed in the Assembly. Awaiting Senate floor vote.
- S2791/A4480 – Requires New Jersey Department of Human Services to review and evaluate any existing requirements for Medicaid managed care organizations (MCOs) to contract with any willing provider for the delivery of nursing home services, and determine whether to request amendments or waivers as may be necessary to allow MCOs to terminate or suspend a contract with a nursing home that has a history of multiple violations of licensure requirements that resulted in severe adverse health consequences for facility staff and residents. Passed in the Assembly. Awaiting Senate floor vote.
- S3006/A4767 - Restores civil liability of nursing homes and related facilities during public health emergency and state of emergency. Awaiting committee action in the Senate and Assembly.
AARP New Jersey's "Save Our Seniors" Virtual Rally
On August 26, 2020, New Jerseyans gathered online to join AARP New Jersey's "Save Our Seniors" virtual rally to demand action from elected officials and to share personal stories about the lack of protection for our loved ones in long-term care facilities.
We urged legislators to act immediately to enact the package of bills that will protect residents in long-term care facilities and save seniors' lives.
During the virtual rally, we heard from New Jersey residents about what’s happening to their loved ones in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities.
Attendees heard from AARP New Jersey’s Director of Advocacy, AARP’s Vice President of State Advocacy and New Jersey’s Long-Term Care Ombudswoman. This was an opportunity to share our experiences, hear from others, and use our voices to demand change.
The rally recording can be found here, and media coverage on NJ.com can be found here.
Stop the Tragedy in Our Nursing Homes
This is a tragedy that should never have happened and one that our state must ensure never happens again.
The more than 8,000 deaths are not statistics to be ignored or explained away. They are our mothers, fathers, grandparents, siblings, friends and spouses with families who love them.
AARP New Jersey is fighting to protect nursing home residents against sickness, neglect, and isolation during the COVID-19 pandemic, while also educating family caregivers on how to advocate for their loved ones.
The Time for Action is Now!
We must ensure better care in long-term care and put more “nursing” and more “home” into nursing homes. Systemic problems within our long-term care system existed long before the pandemic and have been heartbreakingly exacerbated by COVID-19. Not only must New Jersey respond to the immediate needs of this crisis, we must tackle meaningful structural reforms to our long-term care system. With bold and significant change, New Jersey can move to the forefront of our nation in ensuring the safety and dignity for everyone in our state, including the most fragile among us.
AARP Has Been Fighting For:
- Mandatory, regular, ongoing testing and adequate personal protective equipment (PPE) for residents and staff.
- Minimum staff to resident ratios. Safe and quality long-term care does not exist without adequate numbers of well-trained staff. New Jersey must establish minimum staffing to resident ratios for RNs, LPNs and CNAs that are aligned with different needs of nursing home residents, such as residents with dementia and on-site infection control specialists.
- Ending social isolation. New Jersey must enact measures that affirm and facilitate a resident’s right to communicate with their loved ones through virtual visitation during times of lock down. Even as some nursing homes begin allowing in-person visits, virtual visitation must be an option for communication between families and residents.
- Improved transparency. Daily, public reporting on the number of days individual facilities have remained infection free; analysis and action to address disparities; mandatory communication with families; and, funding accountability.
- Accountability. No sweeping immunity for long-term care facilities related to COVID-19.