AARP: Partial Repeal of Legal Immunity for Nursing Homes a Good Step; Repeal Should be Complete & Retroactive

Posted on 08/03/20

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Residents Regain Rights to Sue Over non-COVID Care Going Forward – But What About Rights of 6,300+ Families Who Lost Loved Ones During Pandemic?

ALBANY, N.Y.AARP New York State Director Beth Finkel issued the following statement today after Governor Andrew Cuomo signed into law S8835/A10840 to repeal legal immunity for nursing homes for non-COVID-19-related care going forward:

“The state never should have quietly granted sweeping legal immunity to nursing homes retroactive to the start of the pandemic in the first place.

“While AARP is glad Governor Cuomo has partially righted that wrong - which was slipped into the recent state budget with virtually no notice - repealing this unwarranted shield going forward and only for non-COVID-related care simply doesn’t go far enough.

“Our hearts break for the more than 6,300 New York families who lost a loved one to COVID in a nursing home, with many of those residents dying alone while their loved ones were left in the dark.

“Suing a nursing home for neglect or abuse is almost always a last resort for families, but it is a fundamental American right that those who lost – or may lose - a loved one to COVID in a facility continue to be denied.

“If anything, they need this right now more than ever; for much of the pandemic, families and long-term care ombudsmen were barred from visiting and nursing home inspections were halted. There were literally no objective eyes watching what was happening in these facilities, while the facilities were let off the legal hook for any abuse, neglect and substandard care.

“Full and retroactive repeal of legal immunity would not only restore families’ fundamental rights, it would incentivize nursing homes and adult care facilities to do the right thing. And we should never allow over 6,300 New Yorkers to die in nursing homes this way again.

“AARP urges the Governor and the legislature to fully right this wrong.”

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AARP is the nation’s largest nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to empowering Americans 50 and older to choose how they live as they age. With nearly 38 million members and offices in every state, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands, AARP works to strengthen communities and advocate for what matters most to families with a focus on health security, financial stability and personal fulfillment. AARP also works for individuals in the marketplace by sparking new solutions and allowing carefully chosen, high-quality products and services to carry the AARP name.  As a trusted source for news and information, AARP produces the world’s largest circulation publications, AARP The Magazine and AARP Bulletin. To learn more, visit www.aarp.org or follow @AARP and @AARPadvocates on social media.

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You can find CDC’s latest coronavirus information at cdc.gov/coronavirus; AARP information and resources are at aarp.org/coronavirus. En español, visite aarp.org/elcoronavirus.