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An Assembly panel on Thursday approved a measure sponsored by Assemblyman Dan Benson to help nursing homes save money and reduce their carbon footprint by investing in energy efficient improvements.

“Green buildings have been shown to be healthier buildings for their occupants, which is an important consideration for nursing homes, where residents spend the overwhelming majority of their time inside,” said Benson (D-Mercer/Middlesex). “By encouraging nursing homes to pursue energy efficiency projects that will reduce their monthly energy costs, this bill will provide an incentive for these facilities to reduce their carbon footprint while enabling them to free up more money that can be allocated to resident care.”

The bill (A-3791) would direct the Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) to approve a request by a nursing home for an interim adjustment to its reimbursement rates, as prescribed by regulation of the Commissioner of DHSS, during a prospective rate period in order to cover the full amount of costs incurred by that facility to install equipment and devices that reduce its energy usage and produce a net savings in its energy costs.

This bill is designed to provide a financial incentive under the Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) reimbursement rate structure for nursing homes to invest in energy efficiency improvements.

Benson noted that utility reimbursements present challenges to nursing facilities across the country. Nursing homes, private- and county-owned, are trying energy alternatives and states are starting to help.

The bill was released by the Assembly Health and Senior Services Committee. It would take effect on the first day of the seventh month following the date of enactment and apply to costs incurred by a nursing home on or after the effective date of the bill.