* Hannah Meisel at the Daily Line…
After granting the troubled nursing home industry legal immunity through an executive order last month, Gov. JB Pritzker backtracked slightly and ordered that the industry can only be protected from civil liability lawsuits involving Covid-19.
On Wednesday, Pritzker eased the extension of an April order to include nursing homes in an executive order granting immunity for hospitals from lawsuits for the duration of the Covid-19 crisis. Nursing home reform advocates blasted the governor, saying he was protecting an industry rife with elderly abuse.
“To give an industry with a long history of neglect, abuse, poor staffing, poor infection control and non-preparedness for a situation like this…is a very bad idea,” said Steve Levin, a Chicago attorney who specializes in cases involving elder abuse. “It’s essentially giving them a get-out-of-jail free pass for past and current misconduct.”
Those protections now only apply to cases involving the diagnosis, treatment and transmission of Covid-19. Additionally, protections are only available to facilities that provide widespread testing of residents and staff at the homes.
Ann Spillane, Pritzker’s chief legal counsel, denied the original order was about protecting the nursing home industry from legal trouble. She suggested it was intended to address deaths that were likely to occur in facilities that were not originally designed or equipped to handle outbreaks the size of a pandemic.
“We’re asking them to go outside their normal comfort zone,’” Spillane said.
She added that, in April, there was a real danger of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities not accepting Covid-19-positive patients out of fear of liability, a situation that may have overwhelmed nearby hospitals.
However, advocates for nursing home reform say extensions should never have been extended to nursing homes in the first place, especially given the industry’s troubled reputation over many years.
Go read the rest.