vulnerable

Coronavirus relief funds for nursing homes dry up, raising fears for elderly, vulnerable

As drafts of a renewed coronavirus relief package continue to be debated in and around the White House, the many millions left languishing in nursing homes and elderly care facilities – along with their loved ones forced to communicate with them from afar – are urging swift action.

According to the American Health Care Association (AHCA), almost all the initial $175 billion U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) funds from the CARES Act – which was signed into law by President Trump in late March – has been spent, and yet coronavirus – officially termed COVID-19 – cases in at least 22 states continues to ascend, ahead of the already daunting cold and flu season.

“HHS has announced distribution plans for 80 percent of the $175 billion Provider Relief Fund created by the CARES Act. Health care providers, including nursing homes, will need additional resources to continue its response to the COVID pandemic heading into the cold and flu season, which provides new challenges,” Mark Parkinson, president and CEO of American Health Care Association and National Center for Assisted Living (AHCA/NCAL), told Fox News. “COVID-19 disproportionately impacts the elderly – many of whom already have preexisting health conditions and chronic diseases – and the dedicated staff who care for them.”

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The American Health Care Association and National Center for Assisted Living (AHCA/NCAL) has thus requested an additional $100 billion from the HHS Provider Relief Fund, which is accessible for all health care providers impacted by the novel pathogen, and asked “that a sizeable portion of the fund be dedicated to helping nursing homes and assisted living communities to acquire resources associated with protecting vulnerable residents and staff from the virus, including constant testing, personal protective

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Howard Levitt: Why the independent contractor status of doctors leave them vulnerable in the workplace

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At trial, the judge acknowledged that both physicians would be required to “consider new career paths” as the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario required that they complete extensive retraining to practice in emergency of family medicine, as they had spent their careers specializing in urgent care and found themselves with nowhere to practice. Dr. Luczkiw developed cancer shortly after the urgent care centre closed.

Despite the, frankly, tragic result and unfavourable outcome for the physicians in this case, the Court took an important step in finding that the physicians were dependent contractors due to their economic dependence on the hospital and their high level of exclusivity. As a result, where privileges are cancelled, revoked, refused or substantially altered, absent this limited statutory exemption, physicians would be entitled to damages for reasonable notice, as dependent contractors, in the same way as employees — and potentially for dramatically more if their loss of hospital privileges prevented them from getting back on their financial feet for years.

The case exposes the cracks in our system by which independent contractor status leaves our physicians vulnerable and unprotected. For a society that has become acutely aware in recent months of the importance of physicians to the health and functioning of our society, we must ensure more fair and equitable treatment of our healthcare heroes. The court in this case, as in others, has increasingly filled in the gaps and provided deserved protection for a group which was historically, to the surprise of many, vulnerable.

Got a question about employment law during COVID-19? Write to me at levitt@levittllp.com.

Howard Levitt is senior partner of Levitt LLP, employment and labour lawyers. He practises employment law in eight provinces. He is the author of six books including the Law of

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Why the independent contractor status of doctors leave them vulnerable in the workplace



Most physicians are not employees in the traditional sense, but rather are independent contractors with hospital 'privileges'.


© Provided by Financial Post
Most physicians are not employees in the traditional sense, but rather are independent contractors with hospital ‘privileges’.

The pandemic has shone a light on many aspects of society, but nowhere more brightly than on our healthcare system.

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Exposing both its frailties and resilience, COVID-19 has made it clear that the strength of our hospitals lies with our frontline staff: physicians, nurses and other healthcare professionals. However, the independent contractor status of physicians can leave them vulnerable to unfair practices in the workplace. Recently, however, our courts recognized one of the challenges physicians practicing in hospitals face: the dependent nature of many physicians’ practices and the lack of financial protection if their privileges are terminated. Shouldn’t a physician be entitled to compensation if a hospital effectively terminates their job?

Hospitals, and in particular academic hospitals, are complex work environments. Most physicians are not employees in the traditional sense, but rather are independent contractors with hospital ‘privileges’. A hospital grants its physicians the ‘privilege’ of using its resources to provide care to patients. Privileges are very valuable to the physicians who hold them as they have significant financial, professional and reputational benefits.

Increasingly, due to financial considerations, hospitals are seeking to limit the number of physicians on staff. But the loss of privileges has dramatic negative financial consequences for physicians who earn the bulk of their income in a hospital environment, particularly physicians requiring a hospital setting to perform aspects of their jobs, such as complex surgeries.

As privileges are now much harder to come by, some physicians who lose their hospital privileges can find themselves without the ability to earn a living. Recently, the courts acknowledged that some physicians have a relationship of dependence on hospital resources and therefore should be entitled to the

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