NY Nursing Home to Face Short-Staffing Fines

February 16, 2024

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Long-awaited enforcement action to force New York State nursing homes to improve staffing levels or face hefty fines, finally moved a step closer on December 28 when the state’s supreme court rejected legal arguments brought by employers.

Concerted political action by 1199 nursing home members during the Invest in Quality Care campaign back in 2021 ushered in historic reforms to management responsibilities regarding staffing levels. New laws were passed requiring nursing home owners to employ enough staff to ensure a daily minimum of 3.5 hours of care for each facility resident.

But employers argued that labor shortages made it impossible for them to comply with the law. The supreme court has now rejected their arguments and the ruling by Justice James Gilpatric clears the way for fines of up to $2,000-per-day to be levied against understaffed nursing homes.

Justice Gilpatric sided with NYS officials and described the nursing homes’ lawsuit as a misguided attempt to legislate through the courts, which ignores the crucial separation of powers in the New York Constitution. The judge also rejected arguments that the state staffing law should be struck down, noting that state officials have broad authority to pass laws seeking to protect citizens’ health, including at nursing homes.