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NYS Lawmakers Move to Strengthen Nursing Home Oversight

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Advocates for Nursing Home Residents Praise Passage of Bill Requiring Long Term Care Ombudsman Program to Report Visits, Kinds & Patterns of Complaints

ALBANY—Advocates for nursing home residents today praised state lawmakers for passing legislation to strengthen New York’s nursing home oversight program.

The State Assembly gave final legislative passage in a unanimous vote today to a bill (A10045A–Clark) requiring the Long Term Care Ombudsman Program (LTCOP) to publicize as part of its annual reports the kinds and patterns of complaints received by its regional offices and the number of ombudsman visits to each long-term care facility.

The State Senate passed the companion bill (S8617A-May) May 24 with a strong, bipartisan vote.

The move follows a $2.5 million increase in state funding in this year’s state budget for the federally-required program – more than doubling its previous state-funded budget. LTCOP has lagged other states’ programs while over 15,000 people have died in New York nursing homes since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This bill would arm policymakers with the information they need to ensure the Long Term Care Ombudsman Program is as effective as possible in advocating for and speaking on behalf of our society’s most vulnerable population: nursing home residents,” said AARP New York State Director Beth Finkel. “After over 15,000 deaths in New York nursing homes and counting since the start of the pandemic, we need a strong advocate. AARP New York thanks Senator Rachel May and Assembly Member Sarah Clark for steering this bill through their respective houses, and we strongly urge Governor Kathy Hochul to sign it into law.”

“Ombudsmen serve on the front line of protecting vulnerable residents in nursing homes and assisted living. We thank Senator May and Assembly Member Clark for their leadership on this bill, which would help ensure that the Ombudsman Program’s important work on behalf of residents and families has the greatest possible impact,” said Richard Mollot, Executive Director of the Long Term Care Community Coalition.

“Ombudsmen are the eyes and ears in long-term care. They become the trusted person who residents can rely on to advocate for them. I applaud and thank Senator May and Assembly Member Clark for sponsoring this legislation so we can strengthen the Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program, produce the data we need to make changes, and to ensure that our most vulnerable residents receive the help and support they need and deserve,” said Ann Marie Cook, President/CEO of Lifespan of Greater Rochester.

The legislation is also supported by the Center for Elder Law & Justice.

Although LTCOP cannot penalize long-term care facilities, it is the only agency authorized to visit facilities on a regular basis to observe conditions, monitor care, and help residents and families resolve problems.

In addition to helping individual residents and families, LTCOP is required by federal rules to act as an independent voice for residents with respect to laws and policies that impact their care.

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