AARP Arizona Wants Lawmakers To Oppose Bill That Would Make It Harder To Sue Nursing Homes

Published: Thursday, February 4, 2021 - 8:53am
Updated: Monday, February 22, 2021 - 11:22am

AARP Arizona wants state lawmakers to oppose a bill that would significantly shield long-term care facilities from civil suits related to COVID-19. 

Senate Bill 1377 would shield health care workers and institutions from liability for a COVID-related injury or death as long as they acted in "good faith," according to the bill. That is, unless it can be proven by “clear and convincing evidence” that there was a failure to act and the worker or institution acted with "willful misconduct" or "gross negligence." And that can be difficult to prove. 

Dana Kennedy with AARP Arizona says families need a legal course of action if they believe there was wrongdoing, "especially when most inspectors were not able go into facilities, and they suspended family visits. And they didn't even allow ombudsmen to go into the facilities," she said.

Dave Voepel is the CEO of the Arizona Health Care Association, which represents skilled nursing facilities. 

"This business, so to speak, is people taking care of people," he said. "And it's one of those things where people will make mistakes. It will happen from here on out and it's happened in the past. We are very short staffed, we are very underfunded."

Kennedy says she’s willing to negotiate when it comes to the language in this bill, but says facilities should not be let off the hook. 

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