Florida House to take up bill to protect nursing homes, hospitals from COVID-19 lawsuits

Issue to be discussed this week

Marianne Duncan works in the rehab room Wednesday, Feb. 3, 2021, at Arbor Springs Health and Rehabilitation Center in Opelika, Ala. Coronavirus cases have dropped at U.S. nursing homes and other long-term care centers over the past few weeks, offering a glimmer of hope that studies and health officials link to various factors, including the start of vaccinations, the easing of a post-holiday virus surge and better prevention. (AP Photo/Julie Bennett)
Marianne Duncan works in the rehab room Wednesday, Feb. 3, 2021, at Arbor Springs Health and Rehabilitation Center in Opelika, Ala. Coronavirus cases have dropped at U.S. nursing homes and other long-term care centers over the past few weeks, offering a glimmer of hope that studies and health officials link to various factors, including the start of vaccinations, the easing of a post-holiday virus surge and better prevention. (AP Photo/Julie Bennett) (Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

After the Senate started moving forward with the controversial issue, a House committee this week will take up a bill that would help shield nursing homes, hospitals and physicians from coronavirus-related lawsuits.

The House Health & Human Services Committee is slated on Wednesday to consider the House version of the bill (PCB HHS 21-01), according to a House calendar.

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The Senate Judiciary Committee last week in a 6-4, party-line vote approved its version (SB 74), which has some key differences from the House bill.

On Monday, Gov. Ron DeSantis weighed in on the proposal.

“If somebody is a bad actor generally I don’t think that COVID should have any change in general liability. You obviously have a duty to care, you have certain duties under the law that should be respected,” DeSantis said.

The governor said he doesn’t want to see nursing homes or similar facilities get unfairly punished.

“What I don’t want is, OK, this nursing home has allowed the residents to live more normal lives, they’re all vaccinated or been offered vaccines, let’s say, at that point, I think that that is a reasonable decision to do. I don’t think that should subject them to liability,” he said.

Health care providers have been calling for protections from COVID-19-related lawsuits since the onset of the pandemic last year, and Republican leaders are teeing up the issue for the legislative session that will start March 2.


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