States: Washington, Alabama
Date Filed: March 2020
Agency: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office for Civil Rights
Overview: The Complaint concerns illegal disability discrimination that is putting the lives of people with disabilities at imminent risk during the COVID-19 pandemic. As COVID-19 cases increase, the experience in other countries and predictions of U.S. health officials is that there will not be enough acute care services or equipment, such as ventilators, to meet the demand of patients with the virus who require intensive treatment. Health care professionals in the United States are already developing protocols for responding to COVID-19, including treatment rationing that will determine who will and will not have access to life-saving treatment. These complaints concern rationing plans being put in place in various states, which discriminate against people with disabilities in violation of federal disability rights laws, including the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act (Section 504), and Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
Excerpt: “OCR has a very brief moment to intercede. If OCR fails to act swiftly to clearly and firmly articulate the violation of civil rights implicated by the rationing plan about to be unveiled in Washington, there will be no way to undo the lethal outcome of the discriminatory plans that have been formulated without OCR’s guidance. We implore you to enforce the obligations of the health care professionals in Washington to develop non-discriminatory approaches to the delivery of care before it is too late.”