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$4B Compensation Fund Proposed For Nursing Home Victims

Ron Kim, D-Flushing, is pictured during a news conference at the state Capitol in 2020. AP file photo

Legislator Ron Kim, a noted critic of former Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s COVID-19 nursing home policies, is proposing a $4 billion compensation fund for civil claims arising from personal injuries or the death of nursing home residents in New York due to COVID-19.

Kim, D-Flushing, recently introduced A.8489, the Justice for Nursing Home Victims Act, in the Assembly. Thus far, Kim’s legislation isn’t getting much support from his fellow legislators — there is not yet companion legislation in the state Senate and the bill has no co-sponsors in the Assembly.

The Justice for Nursing Home Victims Act would amend the Public Health Law to establish a Nursing Home Resident COVID-19 Compensation Program, creating a commission to administer the compensation program and procedures for disbursing damages compensation to the estates of individuals who are eligible by law to claim damages. Eligible individuals would include the residents of nursing homes as well as those temporarily admitted for subacute care and rehabilitation.

Kim also proposes reversing any public policy that limits the liability of nursing homes while amending the Public Health Law to designate responsibilities for nursing homes during a pandemic and explicitly holding nursing homes liable for negligence resulting in the wrongful death of residents.

Lastly, the legislation amends the state Civil Practice Law to allow civil claims or causes of action related to personal injury or death to be filed for up to two years after the legislation takes effect, if it is passed.

“Over 15,000 residents of nursing homes in New York state have passed away due to negligence by nursing home facilities,” Kim wrote in his legislative justification. “While legal immunity for nursing homes to evade liability for damages residents have incurred during the COVID-19 pandemic has since been repealed, justice for victims of these facilities must still be realized.”

During a memorial service held in March for the 15,000 nursing home residents who died from COVID-19 after a March 25, 2020, order forbidding nursing homes from turning away residents on the sole basis of a COVID-19 diagnosis, Kim called for Cuomo should be held responsible for the state’s handling of COVID-19 in nursing homes and adult care facilities. Kim was also a frequent critic throughout 2020 of the Cuomo administration’s failure to properly disclose the number of deaths from COVID-19 in the state’s nursing homes. Kim’s father, Son Kim, was among the nursing home residents to die of a confirmed or suspected coronavirus infection, according to the New York Post.

“This bill will attempt to redress the wrongdoings by the state government in granting legal immunity to nursing homes to begin with, all at the expense of the lives of thousands in this state and the rights they were afforded to guarantee their health and safety in these facilities,” Kim wrote. “Equally important, this bill also puts forth regulations to disallow any future attempts at constraining conditions for liability for nursing homes, to ensure that injustices of this nature cannot happen on a massive scale ever again in this state.”

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