No, The Volunteer Health Services Act Didn’t Offer ‘Blanket Immunity’ To Out-of-State Doctors
Just before the Fourth of July holiday, Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon vetoed the Volunteer Health Services Act. The legislation — which would have allowed out-of-state health professionals to more easily offer free care to needy Missourians — was criticized in Nixon’s veto message for creating “blanket immunity” for such doctors.
Just one problem with that claim: it’s not true. Don’t believe this lawyer? How about . . . the Missouri Association of Trial Attorneys?
Sharon Jones, deputy director of the Missouri Association of Trial Attorneys, which initially opposed the bill, said “even in times of emergency people need to be careful and they need to be responsible. If you harm someone, you should still be held responsible for the harm that you’ve caused.”
But the bill doesn’t actually grant blanket immunity. Trial lawyers stopped actively working against the legislation after language was added providing for civil penalties if health workers engage in “willful misconduct” or a “gross deviation from the ordinary standard of care,” Jones said. [Emphasis mine.]
What a disaster. Assuming the governor wrote his veto message, there is now a serious question about whether he read the bill before he killed it. Does he stand by his veto message? And the big question now with the upcoming veto session is, will the bill stay dead, or will the veto be overridden?