A new report released today by the Empire Center raises questions about the factors contributing to high COVID infection and mortality rates in New York nursing homes—and what reforms should be adopted in response.
“The updated data shows there is no basis to believe that regulating staffing levels or for-profit ownership would have protected residents from the coronavirus pandemic,” said Bill Hammond, senior fellow for health policy at the Empire Center. “We should use the clarity provided by the slow drip of new information on these nursing home infections and deaths to drive policy—and avoid making the same mistakes again.”
According to Attorney General Letitia James’s office in a January 28 Report, nursing home deaths were tied to low staffing and for-profit ownership. However, more than 6,000 deaths were omitted from its analysis. The report’s authors did not have access to complete information, in part because the Cuomo administration was withholding data on nursing home residents who died in hospitals.
Hammond and Ian Kingsbury authored the report stating, “With the addition of more complete data – made possible by Feb. 3 court ruling in a lawsuit brought by the Empire Center – the statistical picture changes significantly. The evidence of a connection between nursing homes deaths, staffing levels, and ownership types becomes weaker or disappears completely.”
The Legislature’s package of possible reforms includes a long-standing bill that would mandate minimum staffing ratios for both nursing homes and hospitals—a measure that would add substantially to providers’ labor costs with uncertain benefits for patients.
Read the full report here.