In-mid December 2019, Governor Andrew Cuomo signed into law two bills designed to expand resident rights, strengthen obligations to report abuse, and enhance transparency and oversight of residential health care facilities.  Nursing homes must develop comprehensive policies and change their current practices to address these new requirements.

The first law, which took effect on January 13, 2020, reinforces the rights of residents to be informed of all aspects of their care.  The new law requires nursing home providers to fully inform each resident, or their legally authorized representative, of his/her medical condition, proposed medication, treatment and services, unless medically contraindicated.  Residents, or their legally authorized representative, retain the right to refuse medication, treatment or services after being fully informed of the consequences of such refusal.  Importantly, this new law affords the nursing home good faith immunity and expressly protects nursing home providers from liability for a resident’s informed refusal.  In addition, residents, or their legally authorized representative, have the right to choose their own health care providers for services not covered by the admission agreement.

The second law requires nursing homes to report  “all types” of abuse to the Department of Health, including non-physical abuse and the misappropriation of a resident’s property.  In addition, if nursing homes find themselves having to comply with a written corrective plan post-deficiency or post-incident, the Department of Health is now authorized to appoint an independent quality monitor to ensure compliance.  Nursing homes must now provide all prospective residents with copies of their admission agreement and private pay rates, and post the agreement on its website.  The implementation date for this law, by conservative count, is April 14, 2020.

It is essential for nursing homes to create an environment of compliance and to prepare and implement policies and practices in a timely manner to incorporate these new requirements.