Laura Kelly hedshot
Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly

Kansas is the latest state to adopt COVID-19 immunity protections for assisted living operators.

House Bill 2126, signed into law last week by Gov. Laura Kelly, provides immunity from civil liability for COVID-19 claims for adult care homes, including assisted living communities, that were in “substantial compliance with public health directives” during a public health emergency.

Protections are retroactive to March 12, 2020, and also apply to community mental health centers, crisis intervention centers, community service providers and community developmental disability organizations. 

Debra Harmon Zehr, president and CEO of LeadingAge Kansas, said the protections are welcome news for the senior living industry.

“The new statute affords Kansas providers of nursing home care, assisted living and PACE [Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly] immunity from COVID-related civil liability on par with that afforded other healthcare providers in the state,” Zehr told McKnight’s Senior Living.

Assisted living communities in the state were given an “affirmative defense to liability” in civil actions for COVID-19 claims last summer, whereas most other businesses and healthcare providers were given immunity. 

New York recently repealed pandemic-related blanket immunity protections for assisted living and other long-term care operators. The move by New York runs counter to actions taken in other states that are extending immunity protections to senior living providers. Kentucky’s Senate Bill 5 became law on Sunday, the final day of the 2021 legislative session, without Gov. Andy Beshear’s signature.

At least a dozen states have adopted immunity for businesses to limit their exposure to COVID-19-related lawsuits. They include Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Nevada, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Utah and Wyoming.