(The Center Square) – Gov. Phil Murphy signed a measure that levies new penalties for long-term care facilities that violate state and federal regulations.
Under the measure, A-4478/S-2759, nursing homes cited for repeat or similar “F-level deficiencies” over a three-year period face more severe penalties. It also requires the state Department of Health (DOH) to mandate facilities publish financial statements online and produce annual reports on “facility-acquired infections.”
“Over the last two years, thousands of elderly residents in New Jersey’s nursing homes lost their lives due to coronavirus infection,” state Sen. Holly Schepisi, R-Bergen, said in an announcement. “During that time, there has been little to no accountability for the policies that have been implemented.
“This legislation will make sure that we have accountability going forward and that any long-term care facility that violates state or federal regulations is held responsible,” Schepisi added. “We need to keep our most vulnerable residents safe—and hold those who put their health in jeopardy to account.”
The measure also creates a new nine-member Nursing Home Advisory Council to advise on the oversight of nursing homes and issues residents and families face.
“The alarming impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on our nursing homes has forced our state to ask some tough questions, such as why facilities are allowed to accept new residents when they cannot meet basic health and safety standards or why homes with repeated violations have failed to make critical changes,” Assemblywoman Shanique Speight, D-Essex, said in a statement.
“There are no easy answers, but we must begin by enforcing stricter penalties and increasing the accuracy and transparency of our reporting,” Speight added. “The vulnerable residents in our nursing homes deserve better, and this is how we can help ensure they receive proper care going forward.”
A January Office of Legislative Services (OLS) analysis determined that costs would increase by an indeterminate amount for the DOH to execute the additional data reporting and regulatory requirements.
In December, the office of Gov. Phil Murphy, a Democrat, acknowledged the state agreed to pay roughly $53 million to families of veterans who died during the COVID pandemic’s early days. The settlement covers 119 residents who died during early outbreaks at the Menlo Park and Paramus Veterans Memorial Homes.
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