ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — The Senate and Assembly voted Thursday night to partially repeal legislation that previously shielded nursing homes, hospitals, and other health care facilities from lawsuits during the COVID-19 health crisis.
In April, when the virus was raging in New York State, a law was added to the state budget that gave nursing homes, hospitals, and health care facilities liability protections while treating coronavirus patients.
A statement from the legislature says the amended provisions aren’t meant to disregard the sacrifices of health care workers, but rather balance their protections with the rights of patients.
“We could never possibly repay our heroic health care workers for all of their selfless service during this health crisis.,” Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie said, “this legislation ensures that New Yorkers have access to legal recourse against bad actors, while acknowledging the unimaginable sacrifices of our health care workers.”
The new proposal would narrow the legal immunity provisions, but it doesn’t go as far as some backers originally sought. Thursday night, local Senator Jim Tedisco offered an amendment to the bill on the floor to create a state panel with subpoena power to investigate the thousands of nursing home deaths in New York State during the pandemic.
According to Tedisco, families need answers about what happened to their loved ones. “If you’re loosening [protections] up, providing liability at some level, you should be finding out exactly what took place with the loss of all those lives,” Senator Tedisco said on the floor.
Once the legislation eventually hits the governor’s desk, he’ll have 10 days to sign or veto.