Assembly and Senate Meet, Eye Fall Return

August 3, 2020

The Legislature reconvened virtually on July 20 and worked late into the night of July 23. Our top priority during this brief session was preserving the Emergency or Disaster Treatment Protection Act (EDTPA), which provides qualified liability protections for hospitals and their workers (among other health care entities and their workers) during the COVID-19 emergency.

Despite GNYHA’s opposition, the Legislature passed a bill (A.10840/S.8835, Kim/Sepúlveda) that removed immunity protections against claims arising out of services provided to non-COVID-19 patients, even if their care was affected by the defendant’s COVID-19 emergency response. This change would not be retroactive—a move supported by the trial bar that would have saddled providers with a deluge of claims from a time when hospitals were doing everything possible to respond to the pandemic. Working with many of you, we successfully opposed that push. The Legislature has delivered the bill to Governor Cuomo, and he has until August 5 to act.

It now seems increasingly likely that the Assembly and Senate will hold another session in September. They could address a variety of unresolved issues, including the State’s finances, which the pandemic has decimated. State law allows the Division of the Budget (DOB) to make significant spending cuts to programs if cash reserves fall short; the Legislature can respond to such a “savings plan” with its own. DOB has said that if the State doesn’t receive Federal help, it will be forced to make 20-30% cuts to education and Medicaid. Some in Albany are increasingly arguing that New York must raise taxes on the wealthy to mitigate potential cuts; Governor Cuomo said on Friday that such a move was best considered at the Federal level.

Below is a summary of bills of interest from the recent legislative session.