Republican and Democrat politicians have both embraced legislation to immunize themselves and their deep-pocketed corporate donors from legal liability for ill-thought-out pandemic policies blamed for the deaths of thousands.
Republicans in the Senate have all but plagiarized a controversial provision from New York Governor Andrew Cuomo that will offer legal immunity to corporations that ran the care homes in which hundreds of thousands of elderly Americans died with the coronavirus over the last six months, according to a trio of progressive journalists who compared the texts and interviewed some of the lobbyists who wrote the polarizing passages for the politicians in their pockets.
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When Cuomo’s corporate immunity provisions first resurfaced in Senate Republicans’ Covid-19 stimulus package in July, some thought it was a fluke. The legislative package protected elder care homes from lawsuits over “resource or staffing shortage” and classed hospital administrators as caregivers for the purpose of that immunity. Cuomo himself criticized the bill, even as journalists noted the similarity of its language to his own legislation.
The bill in question was actually written by the Greater New York Hospital Association (GNYHA), a lobbying group that paid Cuomo over $1 million for the privilege of walling its members off from legal action in the midst of a pandemic that has seen tens of thousands of Americans die in nursing homes across the nation. Careful to cover all its bases, the GNYHA also spread over a quarter of a million dollars among Democratic legislative committees, ensuring the provision would be passed.
Critics said the measure green-lighted the most egregious corporate misbehavior – “effectively reward[ing] executives at nursing homes where thousands of elderly residents were killed by the coronavirus,” in the words of the progressive trio. Under pressure from progressive Democrats, the immunity measure was reined in by a second bill that limited its effect only to Covid-19 cases.
However, that ‘restriction’, combined with the hefty federal payouts to hospitals for coronavirus cases, may only have served to encourage facilities to list coronavirus on death certificates – and other states quickly followed New York’s example,