Gov. Murphy signs bills to strengthen long-term care facilities

Gov. Phil Murphy signed four bills Wednesday aimed at protecting residents and workers at long-term care facilities.
Two of the bills signed into law would ensure nurses and long-term care workers get better pay. The other two would establish an emergency operations center to monitor conditions in long-term care facilities, along with a task force dedicated to long-term care quality and safety.
The deaths of nearly 7,000 residents and more than 100 staff members due to COVID-19 have brought some harsh criticism on the Murphy administration from Republicans and some Democrats, but the state's independent advocate for long-term care says preparedness has improved.
“I absolutely think we are far better prepared than we were in those dark days of March and April,” said Laurie Brewer, the state’s long-term care ombudsman.
Attorney General Gurbir Grewal's office is continuing its investigation into potential violations by long-term care operators.
The Department of Health still often relies on written declarations from long-term care facilities that the facilities are following state guidelines.
Under the new laws, health workers at long-term care facilities must be paid at least $3 per hour more than the state minimum wage.