Senate Bill 7014 (SB 7014), a proposal that would extend COVID-19 liability protections for hospitals and providers passed through the Senate on Wednesday while Senate Bill 1222 (SB 1222) that would allow patients to receive hospital inpatient services at home advanced through the Senate Health Policy Committee.
SB 7014, originally filed by a judiciary committee on Nov. 30th of last year, looks to extend the duration of liability protections from COVID-19-related claims against health care providers and passed the full Senate by a 22-13 vote. Medical institutions can still be faced with COVID-19 lawsuits, but the bill requires a higher standard of proof for plaintiffs. Those seeking legal action will need to prove that the health care provider was clearly negligent or engaged in intentional misconduct.
“The liability protections require a plaintiff to: satisfy heightened pleading requirements of alleging facts in sufficient detail to support each element of his or her claim, prove by the greater weight of the evidence that the health care provider was grossly negligent or engaged in intentional misconduct, and overcome any affirmative defense,” the bill analysis and fiscal impact statement declared.
The bill is backed by numerous health providers and business organizations, such as the Florida Hospital Association, the Florida Medical Association, the Florida Osteopathic Medical Association, LeadingAge Florida, the Florida Senior Living Association, the Florida Assisted Living Association, the Florida Chamber of Commerce, and Associated Industries of Florida, according to News Service Florida.
“This bill extends the length of time, or application period, that a health care provider receives certain liability protections for COVID-19-related claims. Pursuant to legislation passed in 2021, the application period applies to claims accruing before March 29, 2022. SPB 7014 extends the application period of the liability protections from March 29, 2022, to June 1, 2023,” the text of the bill said.
Simultaneously, SB 1222, filed by Senator Aaron Bean, was approved by the Senate Health Policy Committee, allowing it to move closer to being voted on by the full Senate. If enacted, the proposed legislation would amend a preexisting set of state healthcare laws permitting hospital workers and physicians to offer at-home medical services for patients that require or request it.
“[The bill authorizes] certified paramedics to perform basic life support services, advanced life support services, and additional health care services to acute care at-home patients in nonemergent community settings under certain circumstances, providing that a physician or medical director who supervises or directs the provision of such services by a paramedic is liable for any act or omission during such services,” the text of the bill reads.
Several Florida hospitals currently offer at-home acute care including Mayo Clinic, Palm Bay Hospital, Viera Hospital, and Cape Canaveral Hospital through Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) waivers to hold the ability to perform the service. SB 1222 would grant the foundation to offer at-home care on a full-time and continual basis, also opening the door for other large hospital networks statewide to do so without seeking CMS exemption.