Liability Reform Advocacy Continues Amid Pandemic
The COVID-19 pandemic has presented a myriad of challenges to the healthcare industry and dramatically impacted plastic surgery practices nationwide. While high-profile initiatives such as the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) have featured in the Society's advocacy efforts and outreach to members amid the crisis, medical liability has remained a top legislative priority for ASPS. In fact, this unprecedented public health emergency has further highlighted the need to expand medical liability protections for physicians.
The Society recently furthered its advocacy efforts around this critical issue by supporting the Coronavirus Provider Protection Act. On June 12, ASPS sent a letter of support to the bill's chief co-sponsors, Representatives Phil Roe, MD (R-TN-01) and Lou Correa (D-CA-46). This legislation would provide federal medical liability protections for physicians by offering providers and healthcare facilities immunity from liability related to care provided in good faith during the pandemic. This immunity would cover acts or omissions that occurred while providing or arranging care for services that were within the physician's scope of licensure/certification, without regard to whether the service fell within their usual scope of practice. In addition, the bill would provide a federal solution to protect physicians from what amounts to a patchwork of state medical liability laws.
As Congress continues its march toward a much-anticipated fourth piece of COVID-19 relief legislation, liability remains a pivotal issue. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has indicated that the Senate bill will differ from the House's $3 trillion Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions (HEROES) Act in several ways and highlighted liability protections for businesses as a red line issue.
While the HEROES Act provides additional funding and regulatory clarity, it fails to include any medical liability protections for physicians working outside their traditional scope of practice during the pandemic – feedback that ASPS provided to House leadership in a May 15 letter. The Society also recently signed on to an AMA letter to Congressional leadership requesting the inclusion of medical liability provisions from the Coronavirus Provider Protection Act in the next economic stimulus package.
As the next round of COVID-19 relief legislation takes shape, the Society will continue to advocate for medical liability protections, as well as funding and programs that help ensure the viability of physician practices nationwide.