Cuomo Repeals Nursing Home Immunity
New York’s Governor Cuomo Repeals Covid-19 Liability Protection From Nursing Homes
Last year at the start of the Coronavirus pandemic, Governor Cuomo and the New York legislature enacted the Emergency Disaster Treatment Protection Act. The legislation shielded hospitals, health care facilities, and nursing homes, and their employees from liability for injuries and death that occurred because of Covid-19. The law essentially granted these people and institutions immunity from malpractice and negligence lawsuits for harm related to the treatment, diagnosis, or prevention of Covid-19.
The law was controversial from the beginning, with some lawmakers and constituents arguing that granting immunity unfairly absolved nursing homes from their roles in causing injuries and death during the pandemic. While many people felt comfortable protecting nursing homes from some responsibility, others wanted to ensure that there was also some accountability.
On April 7, 2021, Cuomo repealed the broad protections given to nursing homes and hospitals during those early days of the pandemic.
Repeal of Covid-19 Immunity is Not Retroactive
The legislation became effective immediately, paving the way for nursing home residents and their families to once again pursue lawsuits and seek compensation for their injuries. The repeal of the Treatment Protection Act does not contain language that makes the elimination of immunity retroactive. While nursing homes and other facilities have avoided Covid-19 care-related lawsuits up until now, they should brace themselves for this to change.
Cuomo Under Fire For Under Reporting Nursing Home Covid-19 Deaths
The year has been a difficult and controversial one for nursing homes and their residents, especially in New York. Thousands of nursing home patients died from Covid-19, leading many families to wonder if their deaths were preventable.
Tensions over the protection of nursing homes came to a head when Cuomo was accused of obscuring the true number of Covid-19 deaths in New York nursing homes. Cuomo faces allegations that the reporting system purposefully left out nursing home residents who died from Coivd-19 in the hospital. New York Attorney General Letitia James suggests that Cuomo may have undercounted Covid-19 related deaths as they relate to nursing homes “by as much as 50 percent.” Cuomo’s handling of the Covid-19 crisis is the subject of a federal investigation.
Reactions to the Repeal of Immunity for Nursing Homes and Hospitals
Not everyone is happy with the repeal. The Greater New York Hospital Association (GNYHA) told The Hill that the pandemic is not over and the danger has not passed. Bryan Conway, the GNYHA spokesperson, expressed the association’s concern that Covid-19 continues to present challenging circumstances for health care workers everywhere, even as people become vaccinated. New surges could once again put health care workers everywhere back in the position they were in at the start-working under extraordinary stressful and unusual circumstances. Conway stated, “In passing these fair and balanced liability protections last year, Albany recognized the incredible sacrifices that health care workers, hospitals, and other facilities made in caring for COVID-19 patients.” Conway stressed to The Hill that protecting health care facilities like nursing homes from liability for Covid-19 related injuries should continue.
Advocates of the new legislation are hopeful that it will provide better oversight and accountability of nursing homes and other health care facilities. By shielding corporate owners from liability, advocates fear that residents and their families suffered needlessly and with no recourse. Immunity, advocates say, might have encouraged nursing homes to operate with less than acceptable staffing levels and cut back on important resources- to the detriment of their residents.
Nursing Homes Brace For Negligence Lawsuits
Eliminating the liability protections might result in a slew of lawsuits filed by elderly nursing home residents and their families. Many people blame nursing homes for avoidable injuries and deaths during Covid-19. Short staffing, isolation, poor supervision, and the suspension of visitors left nursing home residents extremely vulnerable to physical and emotional abuse and neglect. Many New Yorkers alleged that their loved ones died because of nursing home neglect during the past year.
The repeal of the immunity shield essentially reinstates the legal rights of nursing home residents. They can now resume enforcing those rights to be free from abuse and neglect.
Now that nursing homes no longer have immunity, families can seek compensation if negligence resulted in injury or death to their loved ones.
If Your Loved One Was Abused or Neglected in a New York Nursing Home, Call Our Lawyers Today
If you or someone you love was injured or died in a nursing home, it might have been avoidable. If neglect or abuse caused the harm, you might be entitled to collect compensation. Call our lawyers at the Law Firm of Irene H. Gabo, P.C., to learn more about filing a nursing home neglect claim. Call (800) 560-0214 to schedule your free consultation.