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Florida lawmakers working on pandemic legal protections for health care workers

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Florida lawmakers are trying to drum up support for liability protections for health care workers and long-term care facility staff who have been on the front lines fighting the pandemic.

From PPE shortages, crowded COVID-19 wards and lockdowns at long-term care facilities, health care workers have faced numerous challenges over the past year.

“They ran toward this crisis. They led, they cared for with dedication, with commitment,” said Mary Mayhew, President of the Florida Hospital Association.

And as lawmakers have sought pandemic liability protections for Florida businesses, they’re now hoping to provide similar legal protections for those in the health care industry.

“We should be celebrating our caregivers, not putting them at risk of being sued,” said Kathy Gallin with the Florida Health Care Association.

State Senator Jeff Brandes told News4Jax liability protections for health care workers will go further than those proposed for businesses.

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“The key is, we have to recognize this is a global pandemic and physicians were given oftentimes conflicting from the CDC and other groups,” said Brandes.

Brandes said the legislation will address COVID-adjacent issues, like delayed elective procedures.

“Physicians had to make some tough calls. There are obviously some things that are included in the health care world that are not in the general business world that we need to look at. And some of the ramifications, obviously many more of the executive orders related to the health care space than the business space, and so we want to make sure that we’re encompassing many of those conversations,” said Brandes.

The Florida Chamber found protections for healthcare works have broad support.

A new survey showed 78% of Floridians approve.

The Florida Chamber’s survey showed bipartisan support for pandemic liability protections for healthcare workers with 71% of Democrats, 75% of independents and 84% of Republicans saying they approve.

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The legislation hasn’t been filed yet, but the Senator leading the charge says he expects a bill to drop in the coming days.