ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — A state Department of Health report from earlier this month showed more than 6,400 COVID-19 related nursing home fatalities since the coronavirus pandemic started.
Within the state budget, a provision was passed this year that protected healthcare facilities and professionals from liability during the pandemic.
“We’ve had over 6,000 deaths in nursing homes, and New York has led the way on an awful lot of great stuff to respond to the pandemic — this is not one of them,” said David McNally, AARP New York Director of Government Affairs & Advocacy.
McNally calls the provision a “travesty of justice” and that the bar has been made “very, very high” to bring forward a lawsuit.
“Taking away someone’s ability to sue for the loss of their loved one or bad care… that’s often the only option a loved one has is civil court,” McNally said.
Senator Alessandra Biaggi and Assemblyman Ron Kim have prospective bills to repeal the provision in the budget.
“However, now what we are discussing, amongst ourselves as well as our houses, is the importance of having a retroactive look back for this specific issue because it will make it basically impossible for families to be able to bring cases,” Biaggi said.
Senator Biaggi says the way the budget was written the immunity applies to COVID and non-COVID healthcare provided.
“If I am a New Yorker and I was injured between March 7, which is what the budget bill retroactively starts at, and [April 3rd] which is when the budget was signed, my rights as a New Yorker, who was injured by a doctor, harmed by a doctor, are taken away retroactively through this budget bill for non-COVID related injuries.
While lawmakers are expected to be in session this week, Biaggi says her goal is to get this bill “right” and that may mean waiting until after legislative hearings take place next month on nursing homes and the coronavirus.