COVID-19 Liability Protection Reform Bill Passes Ohio Legislature
OSMA is thrilled to report that legislation to expand civil immunity for health care and service providers during the COVID-19 pandemic is now just one step away from becoming Ohio law. This is a victory in the face of considerable uncertainty in the medical community for months.
The bill originally passed in the House in May, with an amendment which would have classified COVID-19 as an occupational disease, meaning that first responders, food workers, and corrections officers would qualify for worker’s compensation benefits. However, this amendment was later stripped out in the Senate, where it was passed in June.
OSMA has been strongly advocating on behalf of Ohio physicians in support of HB 606, sponsored by Rep. Diane Grendell (R-Chesterland), since its introduction this spring. This issue has been of serious concern to many of our members, particularly with regard to the temporary postponement of a broad swath of elective medical procedures pursuant to an emergency order issued by the Department of Health during the early stages of the COVID-19 crisis.
On Tuesday, a legislative conference committee ironed out differences between the two chambers of the legislature on the bill and the House later passed the new HB 606 by a vote of 62-30. On Wednesday, it was the Senate’s turn to vote again, and they passed HB 606 with a vote of 22-8.
Generally, the bill:
- Supersedes existing law regarding disaster-related qualified immunity and provides immunity from wrongful death actions.
- Applies to health care providers including physicians, nurses, home health, long-term care and hospice providers, and other medical professionals.
- Provides immunity for any health care services provided “as a result of or in response to a disaster or emergency.” This includes an act of omission in providing care, decision related to providing care, or compliance with an executive or director’s order put in place to respond to the disaster/emergency.
When signed into law by Governor Mike DeWine, the legislation is intended to apply retroactively to instances since March 9, 2020. The end date for the bill’s provisions is September 30, 2021.
OSMA is monitoring the situation as it evolves and expects to provide more details on HB 606 within the next several weeks.
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