With the number of patients infected with the novel coronavirus reaching almost 1 million as of the 27th of April 2020, the number of deaths surpassing 50.000 and the social distancing measures increasing, one of the questions that find its way in more and more conversations is how will the new coronavirus affect medical law? Given the current situation, where things can change drastically every day, a definite answer cannot be given to this and many other questions that the public might have. In this article, you will have a look at some possible and probable effects of the coronavirus on medical law, based on the current information available up until this moment.
One of the biggest problems that the United States of America was dealing with even before the pandemic kicked in was the healthcare system. One of the top priorities of the presidential race for the year 2020 was reforming the healthcare system. In a country where almost 30 million citizens do not have any type of health insurance, and an even more significant number of them are underinsured, the financial implications of the COVID-19 virus can be scarier than the ones related to a person’s health. Even before the virus was an issue, half of Americans said that they or someone close to them have put aside seeking medical care because of the costs implied.
The New Coronavirus Relief Bill
While initially, the virus and its implications have been overlooked by the government, which led to a severe lack of materials needed to protect and to cure the infected, it was quickly that a new coronavirus relief bill was introduced. This new legislation is divided into three main parts 1, 2, 3, with an update on the last one (Phase 3.5) and seeks to assess the population in regards to health and wealth.
These 3 phases of the relief bill provided emergency funding needed to enable the development of vaccines, loans for small businesses, access to medical consultations via telephone for Medicare recipients, a paid sick leave package worth $100 billion (Phase 2), later $2.2 trillion (Phase 3) and additional benefits for the unemployed, including those who are self-employed, free COVID-19 testing, increased food assistance, extra protection for those working in the healthcare field, forbearance for those with a student loan, and many more.
A Fight Against the Clock
And while the new coronavirus relief bill is doing a good job in aiding people during these dark times, the fight against COVID-19 cannot be won entirely with money alone. It involves the cooperation of the entire population, as well as the efforts of the healthcare workers. In a fight against the clock with an unknown enemy for which the medical workers, the hospitals, and all the health care providers were not ready for, many errors are likely to appear.
Finally, given the rapidity with which the laws are changing and adapting to this new virus and the response of the medical workers and medical care providers, discussing with a medical malpractice attorney for any medical and legal problems that might arise during this pandemic is essential.