New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed legislation granting immunity to health care executives from COVID-19 lawsuits last month. The move comes less than two years after the Greater New York Hospital Association (GNYHA) donated more than $1 million towards his reelection campaign. The GNYHA is a lobbying group for many healthcare systems that own nursing homes. Currently, Cuomo is under scrutiny for his previous order which allowed 4,300 coronavirus-infected people to be sent to nursing homes, where some of the most at-risk members of society live. The death toll in these homes has been among the highest in the nation.
BIG INVESTIGATION: Cuomo granted nursing home execs immunity from prosecution after $1 million flooded into his political apparatus — critics say Cuomo's immunity law is leading to higher death rates in nursing homes https://t.co/sfIKEJRrXg— David Sirota (@davidsirota) May 26, 2020
“It is now apparent that negligence by administrators and executives of nursing homes has occurred at an extraordinary degree…repealing this article is a much-needed step to holding healthcare administrators accountable and doing everything possible to stop even more preventable deaths from happening.”Assemblyman Ron Kim, New York City [D]
Opponents of Cuomo’s bill claim that it provides immunity to executives who “profit off unsafe business practices,” reported David Sirota in The Guardian.
While the Right has been critical of New York’s initial nursing home order, they also believe legislation such as Cuomo’s recent bill is important in cases where employers did in fact “follow federal and local guidelines” and provide a “plan to reduce the risk of exposure to the disease.” Republican lawmakers are currently working on such provisions for businesses during COVID-19.
“The liability protections seem to me to be fairly straightforward and typical things we’ve done in the past after we’ve had similar crises…to at least provide some limited protection for people who are doing things the right way”South Carolina Sen. John Thune (R).
Groups representing the medical community have said that due to many factors – including the unknown nature of the virus, equipment shortage, and having to work in areas outside of their training – healthcare workers need protection from legal action for “circumstances that are beyond their control.”