In January 2022, Gov. Phil Murphy signed a bill (A4478) that improves reporting and enforcement for nursing homes. The law requires nursing homes to disclose more detailed financial information. This is especially important as an increasing number of facilities are owned by private equity firms.
The law imposes additional requirements on facilities with repeated code violations, including more frequent surveys and more stringent penalties. The law was instituted largely in reaction to the industry’s under-staffing and lack of preparedness, which had tragic results during the pandemic. A recent report revealed that one-third of all facilities had been cited for infection control violations prior to the pandemic, and staffing shortages were widespread.
The new rules require surveyors to assess staffing levels. It also includes much more rigorous inspections for facilities with repeated violations, and requires the state agency to develop a scaling system of more stringent sanctions and penalties for violations. Escalating fines and licensure actions will be imposed for multiple offenses and continued noncompliance. Licensure actions may include suspending, terminating, or revoking the facility’s license, restricting new admissions to the facility, requiring the transfer of residents to another facility, or filing for the appointment of a receiver.
Increased transparency is another major goal of the legislation. It requires nursing homes to report information on the number and severity of facility-acquired infections occurring among residents, as well as prevention process measures, monthly and annually. In addition, the state department of health will be required to publish and regularly update data through an online dashboard that includes the information reported by each long-term care facility licensed in the state.