AACU News & Notes

Coronavirus Provider Protection Act (H.R. 7059)

posted: July 7, 2020

On May 28, Reps. Phil Roe, MD (R-TN) and Lou Correa (D-CA) introduced the “Coronavirus Provider Protection Act” (H.R. 7059) to address the growing threat of medical liability lawsuits related to the COVID-19 public health crisis.

Given that urology has the second-oldest surgical subspecialty workforce (average age is 52.5 years), and 50 – 80% of urologists’ patients are over 65 years old, it is critical for urologists to take every precaution to prevent the spread of COVID-19 without the fear of lawsuits weighing on them.

The AACU has therefore endorsed this legislation and has taken various steps to advocate for its passage. In June, the AACU signed onto a provider group letter urging congressional leadership to include liability protections for physicians in the next COVID-19 relief package, and in particular the protections included in the “Coronavirus Provider Protection Act.”

This past week, the AACU tapped into its network of contacts on Capitol Hill to promote support for H.R. 7059. In correspondence sent to targeted U.S. House offices, AACU President Dr. Scott Sellinger urged representatives to support the medical liability legislation and work with their colleagues to advance the bill through Congress.

We’re happy to report that our letter has already had an impact. Rep. Andy Harris, MD, a longtime champion of AACU, responded to us almost immediately indicating that he intends to cosponsor H.R. 7059 “in large part due to (AACU’s) outreach and support” and that they are “looking forward to working on this issue moving forward!”

The “Coronavirus Provider Protection Act” would protect physicians and other health care professionals from medical liability lawsuits where health care services are provided or withheld in situations directly related to COVID-19. The liability protections called for in the legislation are temporary and do not extend to situations in which there was gross negligence or willful misconduct.

Specifically, H.R. 7059 would provide liability protections when:

  • Health care services or omission of services occurred during or immediately after the COVID-19 public health emergency;
  • Services or omission of services occurred while providing or arranging care;
  • Services were within the provider’s scope of licensure without regard as to whether the service fell within the usual scope of practice; and
  • Services were provided in good faith.

The AACU strongly supports these protections for physicians who have faced considerable challenges during the COVID-19 public health emergency, including shortages of medical supplies and personal protective equipment, lost revenue, and rapidly changing federal and state directives regarding elective procedures. They should not be further burdened by the threat of costly and unwarranted lawsuits due to circumstances that are beyond their control.

We encourage our members to engage on this issue by completing an online action alert that allows physicians and medical professionals to contact their elected officials directly and ask them to cosponsor H.R. 7059, or for Senators, to incorporate the provisions from the bill into coronavirus relief legislation.

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