Last week New York state legislators repealed immunity protections granted to nursing homes earlier this year. On March 26th, the Journal News reported, the New York Senate “voted unanimously to approve legislation that would repeal the Emergency Disaster Treatment Protection Act, which provides immunity to health care providers from potential liability arising from certain decisions, actions and omissions related to the care of people during the COVID-19 pandemic.” The repeal legislation was sponsored by Senator Alessandra Biaggi and co-sponsored by Senators Leroy Comrie, Julia Salazar, and Jessica Ramoz.
In a statement about the repeal, Senate Majority Leader Andrew Stewart-Cousins said, “he tragic situation in nursing homes during the COVID-19 pandemic has exposed a dire need to guarantee greater transparency and account… This legislation, in addition to the nursing home-related reforms recently advanced by the Senate Democratic Majority, continues our strong commitment to prioritizing the wellbeing, rights, and needs of residents and their families.”
The new legislation also includes Senate Bill 4377, the Mandatory Translation of Rights and Information on Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program. A press release published by the Senate states that this bill “mandates a prominent display to inform residents of the Long-term Care Ombudsman Program” and instructs the New York Department of Health to publish translations of the nursing home resident’s bill of rights “into the six most common non-English languages spoken in New York State.” In a statement about this bill, its sponsor, Senator Rachel May, said: “, “The Long-term Care Ombudsman Program is a vital resource and lifeline for nursing home residents and their loved ones. While the program has existed for a long time, we continue to see that many residents are unaware of it and the role it can play in advocating on behalf of residents’ well-being. This bill will increase awareness of the program through more prominent displays in facilities and by making the residents’ bill of rights available in all of New York’s major languages. Residents and loved ones deserve to know all of the support and rights available to them.”
The Senate’s bill tracker shows that the new legislation has not yet been delivered to Governor Andrew Cuomo’s office. According to the Journal News, Cuomo’s office has not yet released any indication as to whether the governor will sign the legislation or veto it. A few months ago Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf vetoed an immunity bill similar to the one repealed in this legislation.
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.