A new proposal in the New York state legislature would establish a $4 billion compensation fund for the relatives of nursing home residents who died of Covid-19 in long-term care facilities during the pandemic. Sponsored by Assemblyman Ron Kim, a prominent critic of former Governor Andrew Cuomo’s administration’s treatment of nursing homes during the pandemic, the bill would give relatives of victims an opportunity to apply for compensation from the state, with applications considered by a board.
According to a report by the New York Post, the legislation, called the Justice for Nursing Home Victims Act, would set a minimum payment of $250,000 “for every loved one who died of the virus,” with “spouses and dependents” eligible for a minimum payment of $100,000. In a statement about the proposal, Assemblyman Kim said: “The Justice for Nursing Home Victims Act will make it very expensive for our state and the nursing home industry to commit eldercide. At the peak of the pandemic, it is abundantly clear that our state government’s only motivating factor was protecting industry profits over people’s lives… We must make it prohibitively costly for others to harm older adults. To do otherwise would be to normalize ‘eldercide’ and enable the complete abandonment and neglect of older adults for ‘productive members’ of society.”
As a report by Spectrum News noted, the bill would also amend existing law to change the current definition of wrongful deaths, and expand the statute of limitation for wrongful deaths, “in order to broaden legal options for families.” It would also establish regulations that prevent “further liability constraints on nursing homes in New York,” like those established by the Cuomo Administration early in the pandemic.
In a statement about the proposal cited by Spectrum, New York City Public Advocate Jumaane Williams said: “So many families across New York lost loved ones due to the state’s mismanagement of the COVID crisis in nursing homes that helped make our state the epicenter of the epicenter of the pandemic. In a time of crisis, their government failed them, and they deserve answers and accountability.”
The bill won enthusiastic praise from Fox News commentator Janice Dean, who described it in a column as “the next step” for the families of New York nursing home residents who died of Covid-19. She criticized the administration of Cuomo’s successor, Kathy Hochul, for failing to contact victims’ families or otherwise comment on the more than 15,000 deaths in nursing homes. “We still deserve answers,” she wrote, arguing that Kim’s legislation will help push for them.
The attorneys at the Law Offices of Thomas L. Gallivan, PLLC work diligently to protect the rights of nursing home residents. Please contact us to discuss in the event you have a potential case involving neglect or abuse.