While some providers across the United States are winning the fight to obtain COVID-19 liability protections for nursing homes, others are still struggling to secure immunity.
Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb (R) on Thursday signed a proposal that gives businesses, including nursing homes, civil immunity from coronavirus-related lawsuits. Liability protections have been a key point for providers on the federal and state levels during the unprecedented public health crisis — with more than 20 states enacting legal cover for providers.
Proponents argued that the legislation would protect businesses and providers from frivolous lawsuits as they adapted during the pandemic, the Indy Star reported. Opponents, however, said the measure could discourage lawsuits that have nothing to do with the pandemic.
Holcomb noted that the measure does provide exceptions to civil immunity for “gross negligence or willful or wanton misconduct” and provides civil tort immunity for businesses that manufactured COVID-19 protection products.
The Indiana Health Care Association, in response to concerns, noted that the legislation is “specifically tailored to address actions that are in response to the pandemic or for COVID-19.”
“Any alleged acts of negligence that are not in response to the pandemic or for COVID-19 will not be provided the heightened standard being considered under the proposals,” the association said in a statement. “Further, neither proposal will prevent cases from being filed, allowing them to be considered based on the facts of each circumstance.”
Nursing homes in Florida are still fighting to keep their protections and are closer to obtaining them after a state House committee passed a measure on Wednesday that would extend liability protections for healthcare providers.
The Florida Health Care Association argued in a statement that without COVID-19 liability protections, “predatory trial attorneys who use sue and settle tactics will divert those resources away from facilities that are still working to protect their residents and strengthen their front-line workforce.”
“Our healthcare heroes are deserving of the liability protections that will ensure precious resources — both human and financial — remain where they should be: caring for Florida’s elderly population,” FHCA Executive Director Emmett Reed said.