HCLA endorses Coronavirus Provider Protection Act

The HCLA endorsed recently introduced legislation that offers long-overdue protections for health care professionals and facilities responding to the COVID-19 pandemic.

H.R. 3021, The Coronavirus Provider Protection Act, is a bipartisan bill introduced by Representatives Lou Correa (D-Calif.) and Michael Burgess, MD (R-Texas), addressing the challenges providers have faced from the spread of COVID-19 in the U.S. Confronting risks at the onset of the pandemic including workforce shortages, inadequate safety supplies, and changing guidance from federal, state, and local government officials, providers now face a genuine threat of unwarranted medical liability lawsuits.

With COVID-19 still disrupting our health care system, the patchwork of state laws and expiring executive orders adopted during the pandemic are insufficient in addressing this national problem, which requires a federal solution.

The narrowly crafted liability protections in H.R. 3021 would apply only when:

  • The act or omission occurred during the declared COVID-19 public health emergency or within 60 days of termination of the emergency;
  • The act or omission occurred while providing or arranging care;
  • The services were within the provider’s scope of licensure/certification, without regard as to whether the service fell within the usual scope of practice; and
  • The services were provided in good faith.

In a letter to Representatives Correa and Burgess, 30 HCLA member organizations and other advocacy groups wrote, “Until the Coronavirus Provider Protection Act is passed, the very healthcare providers and facilities that have been celebrated as our nation’s heroes remain vulnerable to the threat of unwarranted liability lawsuits. We are committed to working with you to ensure that this threat is avoided so the highest level of care may continue to be provided to those both directly and indirectly affected by the pandemic.”

To read more about HCLA’s support of H.R. 3021, click here.

California court rules against attempt to circumvent MICRA

Litigation pursued in California attempted to circumvent Medical Injury Compensation Reform Act (MICRA) protections by utilizing loopholes in liability law.

The case considered whether or not California physicians could be held liable for ordinary negligence for failing to supervise a student who was learning to be a physician assistant (PA) and if physicians could be held liable for ordinary negligence or negligent performance of a contract.

The Court of Appeal of the State of California, Fifth Appellate District, upheld a lower court’s decision in favor of the defendants. This outcome was “a welcome one in the medical community.”

The American Medical Association’s (AMA) Litigation Center and state medical societies were active in opposing the plaintiff’s arguments, highlighting in an amicus brief several previous attempts in California courts to avoid MICRA by recasting professional negligence actions as other types of claims.

“Professional negligence flows from the provision of medical care, which includes not only ‘medical diagnosis and the treatment of patients,’ but also the ancillary acts involved in rendering that care by any person who may play a role in the treatment of the patient,” AMA’s amicus brief said, quoting an earlier California court decision.

“These are allegations of negligence in rendering professional services, plain and simple,” the brief said, and the decision handed down by the court was in agreement.

For more information on this continued attempt to expand medical liability, click here.

Broad bill offers Missouri health care providers pandemic protections

A priority bill for Missouri Governor Mike Parson passed the state legislature and provides business owners and medical providers liability protections stemming from transmission of the COVID-19 virus.

The legislation would prohibit COVID-19 liability lawsuits against businesses and health care providers unless plaintiffs can prove they were sick from COVID-19 due to an organization’s “reckless or willful misconduct.”

It also protects manufacturers who stepped in to fill a widespread need for masks and COVID-19 protective equipment unless “clear and convincing evidence” exists that they were reckless and caused harm or injury.

“The threat of this litigation has loomed over every employer in Missouri,” said Dan Mehan, president and CEO of the Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry. “With this bill now passed, employers should have greater confidence as they get Missourians back to work.”

To read more about pandemic protections passed in Missouri, click here.