The latest installation in our series on legislation recently passed by the New York State Legislature (introduced here) addresses legislation in the long term care and aging space. It follows upon descriptions of legislation in the pharmacy space (here) and hospital space (here). Like those areas, the long term care area was impacted by the same political turmoil that limited the number of bills passed – but some significant legislation was enacted nonetheless.
One of the more interesting aspects of the long term care and aging space is that it tends to be comprised of two very different regulatory regimes. The first, primarily overseen by the Department of Health (DOH), regulates licensed long term healthcare providers like nursing homes, assisted living residences, home care and others. The second, overseen by the State Office for the Aging (SOFA), focuses on the elderly more generally. Sometimes, it can seem like these two agencies occupy two entirely different worlds; other times, they coordinate comprehensively and effectively. Bills passed this year by the Legislature affect both agencies.
Except where otherwise indicated, these bills all await action by the Governor.
Assisted Living Programs and Hospice (A10459-A by Assemblymember Lupardo/S8353-A by Senator Hannon): Continuing the State’s recent focus on expansion of assisted living program services (see our post on long term care provisions in the State Budget, here), this bill would allow hospice services to be delivered to individuals residing in assisted living programs. Current Medicaid policy does not allow the delivery of hospice services in an assisted living program, requiring many residents to transfer to a nursing home in their last few weeks of life, compounding the issues they already face at the end of their lives.
Adult Care Facility Temporary Operators (A8159 by Assemblymember Wright/S766 by Senator Stewart-Cousins): This bill would require the DOH to provide written notice when a temporary operator is appointed at any adult home, enriched housing program, residence for adults or assisted living program. Temporary operators are entities appointed by DOH to operate a facility where an operator’s license has been suspended.
Deaths in Adult Care Facilities (A9034 by Assemblyman Gottfried/S7282 by Senator Alcantara): This bill is a chapter amendment (see discussion of chapter amendments in our introductory post here) to Chapter 459 of the Laws of 2017, which added enriched housing programs to the list of adult care facilities that must report the death or attempted suicide of a resident or any felony committed against a resident to DOH, and to the Justice Center for the Protection of People with Special Needs, if they are receiving mental hygiene services. That bill also reduced the time within which facilities must make such a report from 48 to 24 hours. This bill eliminates the statutory time period in which a report must be made. The bill was signed by the Governor on June 1, 2018.
Long Term Care Ombudsman (A11050 by Assemblymember Lupardo/S9002 by Senator Dilan): This bill would make various changes to bring the provisions of state law establishing the Long Term Care Ombudsman Program (LTCOP) in line with federal statute and regulations. The LTCOP investigates and resolves complaints made by or on behalf of residents, promotes the development of resident and family councils, and informs government agencies, providers and the general public about issues and concerns impacting residents of long term care facilities. The bill would clarify (1) the structure of the LTCOP and the relationship between the LTCOP and the SOFA; (2) the required qualifications of the state ombudsman and assistant ombudsmen; (3) the state ombudsman’s duty to refer complaints to appropriate investigative agencies; (4) the state ombudsman’s duty to comment on actions pertaining to the health, safety, welfare, and rights of the residents of long term care facilities and services; (5) the state ombudsman’s duty to provide timely access to LTCOP services; (6) the state ombudsman’s duty to recommend changes to law, regulation and policy; (7) the state ombudsman’s duty to develop a certification training program and continuing education for ombudsmen; (8) the state ombudsman’s duty to provide administrative and technical assistance to ombudsmen; (9) the state ombudsman’s duty to support citizen organizations, resident and family councils, and other statewide systems advocacy efforts; and (10) the state ombudsman’s duty to advise SOFA in regard to plans or contracts governing local ombudsman entity operations. The bill requires the state ombudsman to develop a grievance process to offer an opportunity for reconsideration of any decision regarding the appointment of any local ombudsman, and any decision of an ombudsman. The bill also clarifies (a) the records to which ombudsmen must have access and the limitations on the use and further disclosure of such records; (b) that ombudsmen must be granted access to and cooperation from long term care facilities, and facilities may not retaliate against anyone for cooperating with ombudsmen; and (c) the conflict of interest rules applicable to the LTCOP.
Informal Caregiver Best Practices (A3958 by Assemblymember Dinowitz/S8730 by Senator Sepulveda): This bill would require SOFA to develop a guide for businesses containing best practices for retaining employees who are also informal caregivers (i.e., who care for elders at home), and make that guide available on the agency’s website or via paper copy.
Veterans in Nursing Homes (A9981-A by Assemblymember Wallace/S8968 by Senator Helming): This bill would add “assisted living” (presumably assisted living programs), assisted living residences, and adult care facilities to the list of entities which may report to SOFA on the veteran status or veteran spouse status of residents, so that SOFA may link them to counselors for review and potential linkage to veteran services. SOFA would be required to include the number of such reports within its annual report.
Locator Technology Businesses (A1118-A by Assemblymember Rosenthal/S5221-A by Senator Stavisky): This bill would require DOH to develop a list of businesses that manufacture, distribute or otherwise offer locator technology services designed to assist in the expedited location of individuals afflicted with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia who become lost or disoriented. DOH must make the list available to physicians and the general public. “Locator technology” includes, e.g., wrist transmitter tracking systems, software programs, data bases and products like necklaces and bracelets that contain identifying information.
For additional information on any of the foregoing bills, please do not hesitate to contact Farrell Fritz’s Regulatory & Government Relations Practice Group at 518.313.1450 or NYSRGR@FarrellFritz.com.