Governor Andrew Cuomo has at long last repealed a law in New York that he originally signed giving legal immunity to nursing homes and other essential businesses in connection to thousands of COVID-19-related deaths.
The “Emergency or Disaster Treatment Protection Act” was rolled back on Tuesday night allowing the families of pandemic victims the option of legal recourse regarding negligence related to their treatment and deaths. Healthcare entities can now be held civilly and criminally liable for the treatment of COVID-19 patients.
Cuomo’s backtrack comes amid mounting pressure as his administration is being federally investigated for allegedly covering up thousands of nursing home deaths in 2020. Calls for Cuomo’s resignation are still increasing as the nursing home and sexual harassment allegations keep piling up. This measure seems to be aimed at deflection from that fact and to bolster his political image.
“As we near the passage of this year’s momentous budget, I am relieved to see corporate immunity, which was slipped into last year’s budget, fully repealed,” Bronx State Senator Alessandra Biaggi stated on Tuesday night. She did not address Cuomo directly, but the insinuation was evident in her words. She helped sponsor the bill.
(Video Credit: GOP War Room)
“This blanket immunity prevented thousands of families who lost loved ones to COVID-19 from seeking legal recourse, and potentially incentivized nursing home executives to cut corners — endangering staff and residents,” Biaggi declared.
“The corporate immunity provision was a license to kill,” the Democrat charged.
#BREAKING: Governor Cuomo has signed S5177 into law to fully repeal the blanket immunity NY granted healthcare facilities and nursing homes.
Tonight I am thinking of those who lost loved ones in nursing homes. This moment is thanks to their tireless advocacy and persistence.
— Alessandra Biaggi (@SenatorBiaggi) April 7, 2021
Biaggi wrote in the bill, “it is now apparent that negligence by administrators and executives of nursing homes has occurred to an extraordinary degree.”
The bill states, “In particular, Article 30-D egregiously uses severe liability standards as a means to insulate health care facilities and specifically, administrators and executives of such facilities, from any civil or criminal liability for negligence. Repealing this article is a much-needed step to holding health care administrators accountable and doing everything possible to stop more preventable deaths from happening.”
Queens Assemblyman Ron Kim also co-sponsored the bill. He claimed that Cuomo threatened to “destroy” him if he refused to help the governor cover up his mess in regards to nursing home deaths. “I can tell the whole world what a bad person you are and you will be finished,” Kim recounted Cuomo’s alleged words in February.
Cuomo infamously said: “If you look at New York State, we have a lower percentage of deaths in nursing homes than other states. A third of all deaths in this nation are from nursing homes. New York State, we’re only about 28 percent, only, but we’re below the national average in nursing homes. But who cares!? Thirty-three, twenty-eight, died in a hospital, died in a nursing home. They died.” That statement incensed many New Yorkers.
The Greater New York Hospital Association lobby staunchly opposed the measure for obvious reasons. In the wake of Cuomo’s scandals, the Democrat-led Senate has presented ten bills that are aimed at expanding transparency, accountability, and oversight of nursing homes and the state health department.
New York Attorney General Letitia James originally recommended the repeal of the measure. Her report previously stated: “As written, the immunity laws could be wrongly used to provide any individual or entity from liability, even if those decisions were not made in good faith or motivated by financial incentives.” She also said that “for-profit nursing home operators had a financial incentive to accept coronavirus patients and then not offer adequate care because the immunity shield was in place.”
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