Protections rolled back for nursing homes; health commissioner grilled in Legislature

Protections rolled back for nursing homes; health commissioner grilled in Legislature
Nursing Homes and COVID-19 (Source: MGN Online)

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) - Nursing homes and hospitals in New York can once again be held liable in lawsuits and criminal prosecutions for care provided to patients not being treated for COVID-19 under a law signed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo Monday.

Nursing homes, hospitals, and other health care facilities were granted a broad legal shield to fend off lawsuits and criminal prosecutions over care provided to all patients during the pandemic in an April state budget provision.

Advocacy groups representing nursing home residents, plaintiffs’ lawyers and several lawmakers argued New York’s immunity law was much too broad and made it too difficult to hold the homes accountable.

In the meantime, Democratic and Republican state lawmakers were grilling the state health commissioner about the steep, though ultimately unknown death toll at the state’s nursing homes amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Members of the Democratic-led Legislature began holding the first of two hearings Monday geared at understanding just why COVID-19 took the lives of thousands of vulnerable residents of New York nursing homes.

Lawmakers, who plan to hold another hearing next Monday, said they hope to pass better policies to protect nursing home residents and staffers if infections surge again.

But the governor for months has declined to acknowledge if his state government made any missteps.

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