October 2, 2020
The elderly are the most vulnerable part of the population to the COVID-19 pandemic. In the U.S. alone, thousands of people living in nursing homes have died from the novel coronavirus, and some approximations say a quarter of all infections in the country have some link to nursing homes — whether it’s visitors, patients or healthcare workers in these long-term care facilities.
Since it became clear that the pandemic was going to have its most devastating impact on residents of long-term care facilities, the industry has been requesting to not be held accountable for negligent care that harms elders during the pandemic. First on the state level, and now in Congress, the industry has requested governors and legislators to remove both civil and criminal liability for its substandard care.
Back in March, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s aides silently introduced a provision into the state budget bill allowing nursing homes immunity from most lawsuits over their failure to protect residents from the coronavirus. Weeks later, at least 5,300 nursing home residents died from the pandemic, due in part to poor staffing and shoddy conditions. Now, as New York lawmakers struggle to reverse the ill-conceived measure, federal lawmakers cannot make the same mistake.
The “Safe to Work Act”, recently introduced in the US Senate by Senator Mitch McConnell, would allow nursing homes to escape accountability for negligent care that harms or kills nursing home residents. This immunity would extend for five years and apply to all harm to nursing home residents, even if it is not related to COVID-19.
The devastating result could be:
- Incalculable pain and suffering to nursing home residents.
- Elimination of one of the last remaining protections for the elderly during the COVID-19 pandemic.
- A green light to nursing homes to provide substandard care.
Here at Gharibian Law, we share our strong opposition to any proposal that would grant immunity related to COVID-19 for nursing homes, and urge everybody to do the same. Tell Congress to oppose the “Safe to Work Act” and that you will not tolerate care that harms our most vulnerable citizens. You can click here to send an email directly to your representatives in Congress stating that you oppose immunity.