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Central Texas Local News | kcentv.com

Lobbyists want to make it harder to sue healthcare providers during COVID-19 pandemic

Several Texas healthcare lobbyist groups sent a letter to Gov. Abbott in early April requesting legal protection for healthcare workers during the COVID-19 pandemic.

AUSTIN, Texas — The latest numbers show Texas has more than 1,600 coronavirus patients in hospitals. 

Now, lobbyists for the Texas healthcare industry are asking Gov. Greg Abbott for protection.

“And so there’s just a lot of unknowns they’re dealing with during this pandemic," Texas Alliance for Patient Access representative Brent Cooper said. "And so all we’re asking Gov. Abbott to do is to raise the bar.”

Cooper represents one of several healthcare lobbyist groups who sent a letter to Gov. Abbott asking for an executive order that would make it more difficult for people to sue for medical injuries caused during COVID-19.

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“Patients would not have any recourse against a healthcare provider if they were injured due to substandard medical care involving treatment of a COVID-19 patient," Medical Malpractice Attorney Chip Brees said.

Brees said it’s already difficult to win a medical malpractice lawsuit in Texas because of current protections. This could take away even more patient rights. 

Brian Lee, the executive director of Families for Better Care, agrees.

“Right now, again, this is a worldwide crisis," Lee said. "We should be focused on the preservation of life, OK? Not the preservation of corporate interests.”

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The suggested order would apply to any healthcare facility. That includes nursing homes, where the virus is spreading rapidly and the death toll continues to rise. 

Texas would join other states that have increased liability protections – states like New York, Michigan, Illinois, Arizona, New Jersey and more.

"Other states have seen the need to do this, to protect their healthcare providers," Cooper said. "They’re not eliminating all lawsuits, they’re just raising the bar."

No one from the governor's office has responded to KVUE's request for a comment on the letter.

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