New York nursing homes will soon be required to meet minimum staffing requirements Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) signed two measures that set statewide mandates for nursing homes and hospitals. 

The measures, which were originally passed in May, were signed by Cuomo on Friday. The legislation for nursing homes requires facilities to provide a daily average of 3.5 hours of care per resident by a nurse or nursing assistant. At least 2.2 hours of care must be provided by a certified nursing assistant, and at least 1.1 hours of care must be given by a licensed nurse.

The requirements go into effect in January. Nursing homes are also required to post information regarding their facility staffing under the legislation. 

State providers opposed the measure in the past. The New York State Health Facilities Association called it “one-size fits all legislation” that ignores the fact that the state doesn’t have enough qualified workers to meet the mandate. The association also expressed concern that the state would not be providing additional funding to cover costs of the new requirement. 

“Staffing is a highly complex issue that is comprised of multiple clinical variables that are unique to each nursing home and its resident population. The simplistic staffing ratios in this legislation do not in and of themselves improve the quality of care,” Stephen Hanse, association president and CEO, said in a statement following the legislation’s passage. 

He explained that the average cost of providing 24-hour nursing home care in New York costs $266 per resident per day, but the state Medicaid program pays an average of $211, creating a significant underfunding gap. 

“If legislators were sincere about addressing the long-term care workforce crisis, they would hold public hearings and implement measures to meaningfully recruit and retain workers into long-term care and increase Medicaid reimbursement to nursing homes before imposing unworkable staffing mandates that are detached from reality,” Hanse added. 

The mandate means that there’s now “a process for setting and enforcing staffing standards in every hospital and nursing home,” according to the New York State Nurses Association. 

“For many of us, this last year has been the most challenging year of our personal and professional lives,” Pat Kane, RN, NYSNA executive director, said in a statement on Monday. “This is a huge win for nurses, healthcare workers, patients and nursing home residents throughout the state.”