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Oppose Immunity for Long-Term Care Facilities During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Although nursing home residents account for less than half a percent of the United States population, over 40% of all COVID-19 fatalities in the United States have been residents of long-term care facilities.  Since the onset of the pandemic, the long-term care industry has launched a nationwide campaign to escape accountability for negligent actions that result in harm or death of long-term care residents during the pandemic-even if the harm is not due to COVID-19. Many states have provided immunity from civil liability to nursing homes and/or healthcare providers, while other states have passed laws providing immunity from criminal liability.   Now, Congress is considering legislation that would strip residents of their right to hold nursing homes accountable for substandard care and abuse and/or neglect that occurs during the pandemic and beyond.

How does immunity harm residents of long-term care facilities?

  • Immunity for care that harms residents rewards bad actors-nursing homes that for years have cut staffing, training, and quality of care to maximize profits. 

  • Immunity places current and future residents at risk as it sanctions substandard care that harms residents.  

  • Liability for negligent care incentivizes facilities to comply with laws and regulations. 

Resources

Since the very beginning of the pandemic, the nursing home industry has lobbied governors and state legislatures to sign executive orders or pass laws that prevent residents from holding nursing homes accountable in court. The industries lobbying efforts have been effective, with 39 states providing some kind of immunity to nursing homes.  As a result of these executive orders and laws, tens of thousands of nursing home residents now reside in facilities where negligent care will likely be excused by courts.  Consumer Voice has created a report detailing the status of immunity in every state along with information on the law or executive order.  

Consumer Voice along with a coalition of other residents advocates has created an issue brief explaining why immunity is so harmful to residents of long-term care facilities. You may also read the coalition's statement opposing immunity and a letter to Congressional leadership opposing immunity for nursing homes. 

Consumer Voice has been tracking which states have granted long-term care facilities immunity since the pandemic began.  You may go to our State COVID-19 Policies page and learn if your state has granted long-term care facilities immunity.  You can also track your state's policies on visitation and reporting of COVID-19 information in long-term care facilities to the public.