The Health Coalition on Liability and Access today announced it had sent a letter to Congressional leaders urging inclusion of relief from the threat of lawsuits in any future legislation addressing the COVID-19 pandemic.
The letter highlights that “our healthcare professionals and facilities are putting themselves at risk each day while facing workforce shortages, inadequate safety supplies, and insufficient information or changing guidance from federal, state, and local government officials.”
It goes on to urge Congress to follow the lead of several states and immediately adopt legislation that provides health care professionals and facilities civil liability immunity for any acts or omissions undertaken in good faith while providing health care services in support of the Nation’s COVID-19 response.
As of April 15, nine states had taken such action, including New York. The HCLA is tracking and compiling state liability actions and continues to provide updates as legislation passes and executive orders are issued.
“Action at the federal level would provide a uniform level of protection and avoid the situation whereby a patchwork of liability laws across the country would lead to unequal treatment of our frontline healthcare providers during this national crisis,” the letter states.
As workforce shortages and facility capacity questions remain, “we cannot achieve maximum capacity and capability, however, when healthcare professionals and facilities are asked to sacrifice so much while being simultaneously threatened with a future of numerous lawsuits based on circumstances that were outside of their control,” the letter goes on to explain.
While Congress did include language on temporary Good Samaritan protections in the original Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, “swift action” is needed by Congress to include liability protections in future legislative efforts aimed at protecting patients and strengthening the nation’s response to the COVID-19 outbreak.