Jones, Hill Support Liability Protections for Health Care Workers During COVID-19 Pandemic

Provide joint testimony urging swift passage of Governor’s bill

BOSTON – House Minority Leader Bradley H. Jones, Jr. (R-North Reading) and Assistant House Minority Leader Bradford Hill (R-Ipswich) have submitted joint written testimony calling for the swift enactment of legislation filed by Governor Charlie Baker to protect Massachusetts health care professionals from the threat of civil and suit liability while treating those afflicted with the coronavirus.

Senate Bill 2630, An Act to Provide Liability Protections for Health Care Workers and Facilities During the COVID-19 Pandemic, was the subject of a “virtual hearing” by the Joint Committee on Financial Services on April 13. In written testimony submitted to committee co-chairs Representative James M. Murphy (D-Weymouth) and Senator James T. Welch (D-West Springfield), Jones and Hill urged the committee “to report this bill out favorably as expeditiously as possible as time is of the essence.”

“These essential workers are caring for COVID-19 patients under extraordinarily strenuous and unfamiliar settings, and protecting them from liability will reduce anxiety during this difficult time and enhance their ability to treat their patients. We must ensure that the health care community is fully supported while they continue working to keep us safe and healthy,” Jones and Hill wrote.

Jones and Hill noted that New York has provided similar protections to its health care workers via Executive Order, while more than a dozen other states have passed laws limiting physician liability during a public health emergency.

Governor Baker issued a directive on April 8 to maximize protections for health care workers and facilities under the federal Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness (PREP) Act. While the PREP Act’s liability protections are limited to the administration of drugs, testing and medical devices, Senate Bill 2630 will offer broader protections to doctors, nurses, emergency medical technicians and other health care professionals, including those working at the temporary field hospitals being established at the DCU Center in Worcester, the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center, and other locations.

“This legislation strikes an appropriate balance supporting physicians and protecting patients. We respectfully request the legislature take immediate action to safeguard physicians as they work overtime to care for patients and protect public health,” Jones and Hill wrote.

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