Category Archives: National

Schumer’s overblown attack on GOP proposal for medical malpractice lawsuits

SOURCE: The Washington Post Chris Hayes, MSNBC: “Is the liability protection language acceptable to you?” Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.): “Not at all. It is so extreme. You heard — you said before what [Sen. Mitch] McConnell said, ‘We need things not extraneous, extraneous to covid.’ You know what’s in this bill? No medical malpractice suits till 2024, even if they’re not covid-related. What it says is, if a employer really puts his —” Hayes: “Wait a second. Wait a second. Wait a second. Really?” Schumer: “That’s in the bill. Yes. It’s in the bill. It’s amazing. This is a K Street, corporate-lawyer wish list.” Hayes, the MSNBC host interviewing Schumer, fell back in his chair and rolled his eyes upon hearing this answer. “Really?” he asked. No, not really. As Congress debates another round of coronavirus relief legislation, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) says his “red line” will be shielding businesses, schools and health-care providers from lawsuits related to covid-19. The Safe to Work Act, which McConnell is sponsoring with Sen. John Cornyn (R-Tex.), does just that but in a highly technical manner. “As states gradually reopen their economies, front-line health-care workers, small businesses and schools…

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6 reasons why COVID-19 medical liability shield critics are wrong

SOURCE: AMA Opposition has emerged to a bipartisan bill before Congress that would provide targeted and limited liability protections to physicians and other health care professionals delivering care during the COVID-19 pandemic. Arguments being used against the legislation, however, are easily rebutted. The Coronavirus Provider Protection Act, H.R. 7059, was introduced in the House by Tennessee Republican Phil Roe, MD, and California Democrat Lou Correa and it has the support of nine co-sponsors (five Republican, four Democrats), the AMA and more than 130 national, state and medical specialty organizations. “Physicians and other health care professionals are putting themselves at risk every day while facing shortages of medical supplies and safety equipment, as well as changing directives and guidance from all levels of government,” then-AMA President Patrice A. Harris, MD, MA, said back in June. “We commend Reps. Roe and Correa for recognizing that reasonable liability protections are in the best interest of our country as we continue to combat COVID-19 and begin to recover from this pandemic.” Physicians and other professionals remain vulnerable to the threat of unwarranted and unfair lawsuits as they continue heroic efforts to treat individuals afflicted with COVID-19 while also meeting the needs of other non-COVID-19 patients…

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August 2020 Newsletter

Just the facts: COVID-19 liability reforms As the need to head off a COVID-19 medical liability crisis grows, the American Medical Association (AMA) highlights the Health Coalition on Liability and Access’ (HCLA’s) advocacy efforts in building support for the facts of the matter. With COVID-19 cases building at a rate nearing 50,000 per day, risks of unwarranted lawsuits remain for physicians treating pandemic patients. This risk also threatens patient access to aspects of the health care system that may be disrupted as a result. Pending in the House of Representatives is H.R. 7059, the Coronavirus Provider Protection Act. Similar protections are included in S. 4317, the SAFE TO WORK Act, under consideration for the Senate pandemic stimulus bill. “Physicians and other health care professionals are putting themselves at risk every day while facing shortages of medical supplies and safety equipment, as well as changing directives and guidance from all levels of government,” then-AMA President Patrice A. Harris, MD, MA, said previously. While opposition arguments exaggerate the reach and intent of the bill, the AMA highlights six arguments developed by the HCLA that spells out the reality of how pending legislation would address COVID-19 liability issues: • Providing limited and targeted protection…

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July 2020 Newsletter

Senate stimulus bill introduced with COVID-19 liability protections A second economic stimulus bill introduced in the U.S. Senate this week (S. 4317, the “Safeguarding America’s Frontline Employees To Offer Work Opportunities Required to Kickstart the Economy Act” or the “SAFE TO WORK Act”) incorporates important liability protections for frontline medical providers and facilities. The issue has remained unresolved at the federal level since the start of the pandemic. This is of particular concern given the national nature of the crisis and the lack or inadequacy of sufficient state-level protections. Language in the bill creates an exclusive federal cause of action for injuries resulting from the treatment, diagnosis, or care of coronavirus, or care directly affected by the coronavirus. In addition, the bill preserves state laws which provide even greater levels of protection for our frontline healthcare professionals. The HCLA has also supported a bipartisan standalone bill, H.R. 7059, that addresses the legal vulnerabilities faced by healthcare providers as a result of the pandemic. Both H.R. 7059 and S. 4317 appropriately exclude liability protections in situations of gross negligence or willful misconduct. Speaking in support of the bill, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell stated, “Nobody should have to face an epidemic…

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Kelly Introduces Essential Workforce Parity Act to Support Health Care Heroes During Coronavirus Pandemic

SOURCE: Skadden Washington, D.C. – U.S. Representative Mike Kelly (R-Pa.) yesterday introduced H.R. 7538, the Essential Workforce Parity Act. If enacted, this legislation would extend paid leave required by the Families First Coronavirus Relief Act (FFCRA) to health care workers and offer liability protections to hospitals and other medical providers from certain lawsuits during the COVID-19 emergency declaration. “Our doctors and nurses are on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic risking their own health to treat the worst cases of COVID-19,” said Kelly. “The Essential Workforce Parity Act will guarantee that our health care heroes are treated fairly if they get sick while also ensuring their primary focus can be on helping patients, not fighting lawsuits.” The legislation has received support in whole or in part from two key organizations, including the Hospital and Healthsystem Association of Pennsylvania (HAP) and the Health Coalition on Liability Access (HCLA). Andy Carter, President and CEO of HAP, said this about the bill: “Pennsylvania hospitals’ first priority is the safety of health care workers and the patients they treat. This is especially true during the COVID-19 pandemic. During these difficult times—where the situation and guidance is constantly changing—we must allow health care workers…

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Liability Protections in Coronavirus Relief Legislation

SOURCE: Skadden Earlier today, Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, joined by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R.-Ky., introduced the SAFE TO WORK Act, which would provide substantial and comprehensive liability protection from coronavirus-related claims for businesses, educational institutions, nonprofit organizations, health care providers and employers. The bill also expands the product liability protections already afforded by the Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness (PREP) Act and includes several employment-related provisions. This is the long-awaited Senate leadership liability protection proposal that is expected to be considered by Congress over the next several weeks as part of the overall Phase 4 pandemic relief package. The following is a summary and brief analysis of the proposed legislation. See all our COVID-19 publications and webinars. Creation of Narrow, Exclusive Coronavirus-Related Exposure Cause of Action The bill creates an exclusive federal cause of action for claims alleging that a plaintiff contracted COVID-19 from an exposure to the virus caused by a defendant. That cause of action would limit liability to certain narrow circumstances and preempt all state laws that would otherwise apply to such lawsuits. Specifically, the legislation would require a plaintiff asserting a coronavirus exposure claim to prove by clear and convincing evidence that: (a) the…

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June 2020 Newsletter

Federal legislation for pandemic providers, facilities gains momentum Late last month, federal legislation was introduced to address the increasing need for liability protections covering front line pandemic responders and the facilities in which they work. H.R. 7059, the Coronavirus Provider Protection Act, is a bipartisan bill introduced by Representatives Phil Roe, MD (R-TN) and Lou Correa (D-CA). The bill includes long-awaited protections addressing the liability exposure of healthcare providers who responded to the health crisis arising from the pandemic. “Plaintiff attorneys have already begun filing COVID-19-related lawsuits, and lawsuits, even those without merit, cost time and money, which clearly interferes with the country’s economic recovery. More importantly, such lawsuits distract health care providers from keeping laser-focused on caring for their patients,” said HCLA Vice-Chair Katie Orrico, in an article in the Northern California Record. their patients,” said HCLA Vice-Chair Katie Orrico, in an article in the Northern California Record. The bill is picking up further momentum as additional co-sponsors sign on and HCLA member organizations express their support. In a letter to Representatives Roe and Correa, HCLA member organizations highlighted that “…H.R. 7059 is a comprehensive, federal solution to a national crisis that cannot be solved by any one state….

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Iowa law now shields most businesses from COVID-19 lawsuits

SOURCE: De Moines Register Republicans in the Iowa House and Senate have passed legislation to largely shield businesses and health care providers from many coronavirus-related lawsuits, despite criticism from Democrats and advocates for workers and the elderly. The legislation limits who can file civil lawsuits against businesses for COVID-19 illnesses. It also raises the bar for what makes a business liable for coronavirus exposure. After the House passed the bill June 5, Senate Republicans pushed the legislation through late Wednesday on a 31-18 vote. Sen. Jim Carlin of Sioux City was the sole Republican to join Democrats in voting against it. “This is a timely, important and consequential bill,” said Sen. Zach Whiting, R-Spirit Lake, the bill’s floor manager. “If you’re an employer or a premises operator or health care professional, and you did your best to keep your people and your property safe based on the public health guidance and best practices at the time, you’re OK, and you should not have the threat of litigation hanging over your head.” The Iowa Capitol in Des Moines But Democrats, who are the minority in both chambers, said the bill goes too far to shield meatpacking plants and nursing homes that…

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Iowa law now shields most businesses from COVID-19 lawsuits

SOURCE: Radio Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds has signed the bill into law that gives businesses and health care providers new liability protections from COVID-related lawsuits. Senator Zach Whiting, a Republican from Spirit Lake, said it sends an important message. “If you did your best and took substantial steps to comply with ever-changing government guidelines, then you don’t have to worry about the threat of litigation clouding up your skies,” Whiting said during Senate debate. Republicans in the legislature supported the bill. Democrats opposed it. Senator Nate Boulton, a Democrat from Des Moines, said it will benefit businesses that failed to adequately protect their workers. “To the Iowans who get infected…we are going to lessen your rights,” Boulton said. Republicans named the legislation the “COVID-19 Response and Back-to-business Limited Liability Act.” People filing civil lawsuits will have to prove a business, church, or other organization was malicious or showed “reckless disregard” to the risk of COVID-19. It means most businesses, including nursing homes, cannot be sued for damages in civil court for COVID-19 deaths. The new law is written to retroactively take effect January 1st of this year. It also provides liability protection to businesses and individuals who made personal protective…

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New federal legislation seeks to shield physicians from COVID lawsuits

SOURCE: North California Record As the effort to provide liability protections amid the COVID-19 pandemic continues, a bill introduced in the U.S. House May 28 seeks to safeguard physicians and other health professionals working on the front lines. “During this global pandemic, physicians have been dedicated to preserving and protecting the health of the American public under extremely difficult and challenging circumstances, often at risk to themselves,” Katie Orrico, vice chair of the Health Coalition on Liability and Access, told the Northern California Record by email. The Coronavirus Provider Protection Act (H.R. 7059), sponsored by U.S. Reps. Phil Roe, M.D. (R-TN) and Lou Correa (D-CA), has been referred to the House Judiciary Committee. “Providers deserve to know that they won’t lose their livelihoods because they pitched in and did the right thing trying to care for patients during the pandemic,” Roe told the Record. “Our legislation is a targeted effort to provide protections to physicians whose care was altered as a result of state or local restrictions to prevent COVID-19. “Examples could include physicians who were forced to cancel or delay scheduled appointments, physicians who volunteered to help treat COVID-19 patients outside of their general scope of practice, or physicians…

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