Imagine fielding hundreds of calls from worried constituents at the peak of the first Covid-19 wave, trying to help scared families protect loved ones in nursing homes.
Imagine being stonewalled by those nursing homes and the department of health as you sought answers to life-and-death questions, knowing that Governor Andrew Cuomo’s directive forced these unprepared facilities to take in thousands of Covid-positive patients.
This was what I was going through as a New York state assemblyman when I received a call from a New York Times reporter about a corporate legal immunity provision that gave for-profit nursing homes and hospitals get-out-of-jail-free cards.
My heart sank as I read it. I did not need a PhD or law degree to understand the repercussions of handing out legal immunity to for-profit nursing homes, which now had legal and criminal shields to disincentivize them from saving lives.
Many of my colleagues had no idea the 2020 budget contained a legal shield that gave nursing home executives, trustees and board members blanket immunity. I voted against the budget bill, but if more members knew about the full implications of the legal immunity clause, there was no chance it would have passed…