As the coronavirus continues to spread, public concern for the short- and long-term wellbeing of those most affected – patients and healthcare workers – is becoming increasingly paramount. On April 5, 2020, Governor Ned Lamont issued an Executive Order designed to modify State policy in an attempt to mitigate certain of the anticipated adverse impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Executive Order 7U is designed to provide certain protection from civil liability for healthcare providers who are treating patients during the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as certain financial protections for COVID-19 patients who are uninsured or who receive treatment from out-of-network providers.

Immunity from Liability for Good Faith Actions Taken by Healthcare Providers and Facilities

As a result of the widespread impact of the pandemic, it has become necessary for Connecticut to supplement its healthcare workforce and the capacity of healthcare facilities by requesting assistance from volunteers, retirees, and out-of-state healthcare workers, some of whom have not maintained liability coverage.

Executive Order 7U seeks to encourage maximum participation by those individuals by affording healthcare professionals and facilities protection against liability for good faith actions or omissions taken in the course of their efforts to assist in the State’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Specifically, the Order provides immunity from suit for civil liability for any injury or death alleged to have been sustained because of the healthcare provider’s acts or omissions taken in good faith while providing healthcare services in support of the State’s COVID-19 response. The Order expressly includes immunity for acts or omissions undertaken because of a lack of resources attributable to the COVID-19 pandemic, which resulted in the damages at issue. The immunity afforded by the Order does not extend to conduct that constitutes a crime, fraud, malice, gross negligence, or willful misconduct. The Order applies retroactively to the date of Governor Lamont’s declaration of a public health emergency on March 10, 2020.

For the purposes of this Order, the term “healthcare professional” is defined broadly to include the following individuals:

  1. Healthcare professionals licensed, registered, permitted or certified in any state of the United States;
  2. Retired healthcare professionals;
  3. Healthcare professionals with an inactive license; and
  4. Volunteers approved by the Department of Public Health.

“Healthcare facilities” is defined to include all State-licensed facilities, as well as other facilities, including field hospitals designated by the Department of Public Health for temporary use for the purposes of responding to the State’s COVID-19 crisis.

Financial Protections for Certain COVID-19 Patients

It is widely acknowledged that the COVID-19 pandemic will result in significant unexpected healthcare costs to consumers and health insurance carriers, both in the short term and into the future as consumers are likely to face premium increases in 2021 as a residual effect of the COVID-19 response. Executive Order 7U seeks to provide financial protections for uninsured COVID-19 patients and those patients covered by insurance who received out-of-network healthcare services during the public health emergency.

Specifically, the Order provides as follows:

  1. When emergency services are rendered to an insured by an out-of-network healthcare provider, the health insurance carrier shall reimburse such healthcare provider the amount the insured’s healthcare plan would pay for such services if rendered by an in-network healthcare provider as payment in full;
  2. For uninsured patients receiving services for the treatment and management of COVID-19, no hospital, health system or hospital-based facility, may collect from an uninsured patient or such patient’s estate more than the Medicare rate for said services as payment in full. Likewise, the facility fee for services received by an uninsured patient for the treatment and management of COVID-19 shall be no more than the Medicare rate.
  3. Hospitals may not bill any individual not otherwise covered by a public or private health plan for services received for treatment and management of COIVD-19, unless and until clarified by further executive order regarding distribution of any federal funding that may be available to cover such services.
  4. Hospitals, health systems and hospital-based facilities must maintain fiscal records to identify services provided to uninsured patients for treatment and management of COVID-19 and make such records available for claiming federal reimbursement, as applicable.

Our healthcare team at Carmody Torrance Sandak & Hennessy LLP is available to assist you and your practice as we continue to work through this crisis together. Please contact any of our team members below should have you any questions.

Mariella LaRosa
(203) 575-2654; mlarosa@carmodylaw.com

Leah M. Nollenberger
(203) 575-2685; lnollenberger@carmodylaw.com

Tamara M. Nyce
(203) 578-4275; tnyce@carmodylaw.com