Professor Nina Kohn in The Hill: Nursing Homes Need Increased Staffing, Not Legal Immunity
Nursing Homes Need Increased Staffing, Not Legal Immunity
By Professor Nina Kohn, Syracuse University College of Law, & Professor Jessica Roberts, University of Houston
(The Hill | May 23, 2020) With nursing homes accounting for the majority of COVID-19 deaths in many states, the long-term care industry has joined with other health care providers to successfully lobby for protection from lawsuits. The result: Nineteen states have granted nursing homes new immunity from civil liability either by executive order or statute.
All of these new measures shield health care providers — usually defined as both individuals and the institutions where they work — from liability for negligence. New Jersey and New York even protect against certain forms of criminal liability. Moreover, while some only prevent COVID-19 patients and their representatives from holding providers liable, others could foreclose almost all lawsuits against nursing homes during the COVID-19 disaster.
The industry justifies these measures as essential to protect against liability that would threaten their operation. For example, the Florida Health Care Association, writing to Gov. Ron DeSantis (R), argued that immunity was “necessary” so that facilities could provide care “without fear of reprisal” …