Although the Republicans’ version of the latest stimulus bill is still in the works, it likely will include liability reform measures and an extension of telehealth reimbursement policies.

Political wrangling has stalled the bill, which was expected to have been unveiled last week. The legislation is expected to include the creation of an “exclusive federal cause of action that applies to litigation against any medical provider because of COVID-19,” according to the InsideHealthPolicy news service. It added that, “defendants would have the right to move any case filed in state court to a federal court,” according to the InsideHealthPolicy news service. “Those suing would have to show the defendant was grossly negligent or engaged in willful misconduct and violated public health guidelines. There would also be a cap on damages.”

Liability is on the minds of long-term care providers, who are concerned about facing significant lawsuits as a result of COVID-19. At least 12 states so far have passed legislation that provides some protections for healthcare providers and companies from liability claims, the National Law Review journal reported recently.

Forthcoming legislation also may extend telehealth reimbursement policies through 2021. Long-term care providers have been the recipients of newly enacted flexible telehealth standards due to the limitations on doctor visits caused by the pandemic.  

As McKnight’s reported earlier, a Republication version of the stimulus bill may increase the Department of Health and Human Services’ Provider Relief Fund by $25 billion, a fraction of the $100 billion that healthcare providers, including the American Health Care Association, requested. It also might not increase the Medicare Part B premium in 2021. House Democrats released their version of the stimulus bill, the HEROES Act, earlier this year.