Despite bipartisan opposition, including a united Democratic Caucus, the Michigan House of Representatives yesterday passed a substitute to SB 899 that would dramatically expand immunity protections health care providers and facilities are granted under the state's Emergency Management Act. The immunity provisions under the bill would be retroactive to March 10, 2020 and remain in effect until January 1, 2021. The vote was 56-51.
"This bill, first and foremost, is an anti-worker bill," Rep. Brian Elder said. “This bill, in reality, is an anti-patient bill. "It does one thing and one thing only. It provides insurance companies with a windfall at the expense of our frontline heroes and our senior citizens in nursing homes."
Earlier on Wednesday morning, the House Judiciary Committee reported out SB 899 (H-2) on a 7-6 vote with Rep. Gary Howell (R-West Branch) joining the committee's five Democrats voting no. Despite the House's changes, language in SB 899 is still overly broad and could apply immunity protections to non COVID-19 cases.
"In my county of Lapeer, we've had 31 deaths from COVID," Howell said in committee. "Eighteen are of those 31 are in a single nursing home. Now, I do not know whether happened there was gross negligence or garden variety negligence, but I do know that those 18 families need the ability to seek recourse in that situation to determine what the truth is, and I think that is an important thing to maintain in our legal system."
The bill’s provisions specifically immunize hospitals, nursing homes, and other health care providers for failure to follow proper guidelines or provide adequate personal protection equipment, not merely with regard to employees (who might be able to receive workers compensation), but for patients, family members, visitors, or other persons.
MAJ is calling for the governor to veto the bill.