New York providers are calling on state officials to provide “full assistance” following a new mandate to test workers twice a week — something they say is nearly “impossible” to comply without help.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) announced the mandate last week, and it went into effect on Wednesday. If workers don’t agree to be tested twice a week, they would not be allowed to work, according to the order.
The order would require more than 410,000 COVID-19 tests every week, and that amount of testing means officials would need to increase the on-site availability of testing for providers, explained Stephen Hanse, president and CEO of the New York State Health Facilities Association and New York State Center for Assisted Living.
“The state must ensure that enough tests will be available in a timely manner and that it will fully cover the costs of these tests. Providers are seeing costs of $150 per test — resulting in a potential $60 million a week cost that is unsustainable and is an existential threat to the economic viability of skilled nursing and assisted living providers throughout New York,” Hanse said.
In a letter to the governor, several nursing home groups said “there are a myriad of practical problems that will make it impossible to comply,” the Associated Press reported.
“It’s the right thing to do, it’s a good idea, we support it, but the logistics of it and the cost of it need to get thorough consideration,” Neil Heyman, president of the Southern New York Association, told the news organization.
The American Health Care Association in late April urged providers to prepare for a dramatic increase in widespread coronavirus testing. California recently announced it would allow asymptomatic testing in nursing homes, while West Virginia recently started an effort to conduct universal testing in facilities.
Cuomo, in an interview, said the testing mandate may be “a pain in the neck,” but it’s necessary.
“We have to be able to say … when this is over, that we did everything we could to protect people,” he told WAMC-AM radio.