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Health Care, Manufacturing, and Business Advocates Call for COVID-19 Liability Protections for “Smart Restart”

Today, HAP President and CEO Andy Carter joined members of the Pennsylvania Coalition for Civil Justice Reform for a virtual press conference to call on the Governor and the General Assembly to protect hospitals, health care providers, manufacturers, and businesses from meritless lawsuits during Pennsylvania’s COVID-19 disaster declaration and as the state gradually reopens.

During his remarks, Carter offered praise for the hospital and health care community’s response to the COVID-19 crisis. Thanks to the “rigorous preparation and efforts to slow the spread of this dangerous disease that have worked so far, our hospital system was not overwhelmed as it was in other places. Pennsylvania’s health care workers rose to the times, showing incredible determination and dedication in the wake of unimaginable stress.”

He also noted that Governor Wolf’s May 5 medical liability Executive Order only provided some protections to some health care workers; however, it did not include the facilities in which they work. These facilities include hospitals, long-term care facilities, and medical practices.

Carter emphasized that the hospital and health care community is not, “seeking ridiculous provisions protecting malevolent policies, gross organizational negligence, or willful misconduct.” Rather, he said, health care facilities want “the same protections against frivolous lawsuits, which are untethered to the reality of providing treatment of a novel illness under an emergency declaration. As it stands now, the Governor’s order does not stop these lawsuits…”

To date, Pennsylvania has yet to join its neighboring states in providing these critical liability protections. Without them, the state’s economic recovery could be hampered, said Curt Schroder, executive director of the Pennsylvania Coalition for Civil Justice Reform.

“Our neighbors, New York and New Jersey, have taken strong legislative steps to enact protections for health care providers that are much more comprehensive…” Schroder said. “No protection is provided…for businesses meeting the unprecedented demand for personal protective equipment, nor are businesses protected as they reopen in the face of the continuing pandemic. The legislature needs to act with urgency to provide necessary protections to prevent any delay or impediment to Pennsylvania’s economic recovery. Pennsylvanians need to focus on getting the economy going again, not the constant worry and threat of being sued.”

Carter and Schroder were joined on the call by Lawrence John, MD, president, Pennsylvania Medical Society; David N. Taylor, president and CEO, Pennsylvania Manufacturers’ Association; Gene Barr, president of the PA Chamber of Business and Industry; Gordon Denlinger, Pennsylvania state director, National Federation of Independent Businesses; and Zach Shamberg, president, Pennsylvania Health Care Association. 

For more information, contact Warren Kampf, HAP’s senior vice president, advocacy and external affairs, or Stephanie Watkins, HAP’s vice president, state legislative advocacy.

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