“We are grateful that the Office of Civil Rights and the Administration heard the call for equity in triage and the allocation of scarce medical resources by issuing guidance reminding states, hospitals, and medical providers that discrimination will not stand.
It is unthinkable, however, that the HHS General Counsel could limit the scope of this guidance by providing a caveat that there may be immunity from enforcement of civil rights laws in crisis.
Though some states allow discrimination against people with certain disabilities with laws giving immunity to physicians participating in their patients’ suicides, these ‘exceptions’ to the civil rights statutes need correction.
In the face of this pandemic, the inherent value of vulnerable people must be reaffirmed. Let’s accompany folks with a strong emphasis on hospice and palliative care, which ‘neither prolongs life nor hastens death,’ including counseling and pain management to the gold standard that we all hope for in the end, even amid a crisis.
We thank Roger Severino, the director of the Office for Civil Rights, for this good start and encourage the issuance of more specific guidance that employs objective medical criteria. For example, people admitted with their own ventilator should not have it reallocated, and that reallocation will be done only when care becomes futile.”