VSHL is aware that many news stories are circulating online that suggest plans are being made by leaders and hospital administrators to ration life saving treatment to some of the most vulnerable patients. One such story is here.
VSHL will oppose any such proposal if made in Virginia. The right to life does not end when one is elderly, disabled or suffering form chronic illness. Deciding that vulnerable patients should not receive care is only planned discrimination.
National Right to Life and VSHL are tracking this potential danger. “It is vital that during this crisis, Americans can trust that they will receive the care they need without regard to their age, health, or ability,” said Jennifer Popik, J.D., legislative director for National Right to Life.
NRLC has sent a letter to President Trump, HHS secretary Alex Azar, and Office of Civil Rights Director Roger Severino, bringing attention to this very real risk and asking that protective action be taken at once. The letter can be read here.
This week NRLC praised a statement released from the Office of Civil Rights which rejects the idea that rationed care based on age, disability or other factors would be tolerated.
Office of Civil Rights Director Roger Severino said, “Our civil rights laws protect the equal dignity of every human life from ruthless utilitarianism. HHS is committed to leaving no one behind during an emergency and helping health care providers meet that goal. Persons with disabilities, with limited English skills and older persons should not be put at the end of the line for health care during emergencies.”
“We praise OCR Director Roger Severino and the Office of Civil Rights for issuing the bulletin and for directing that covered entities ensure that people are treated equally under the law,” said Carol Tobias, president of National Right to Life. “No one should face discrimination in their health care when dealing with a diagnosis of COVID-19.”
According to the OCR press release, “OCR is particularly focused on ensuring that covered entities do not unlawfully discriminate against people with disabilities when making decisions about their treatment during the COVID-19 health care emergency.” The entire statement from OCR can be read here.
VSHL members are encouraged to contact HHS here if you feel that you or a loved one has been discriminated against due to having a COVID-19 diagnosis.
Currently, it is critical to our well-being that we take steps to protect each other. This also means that we remain vigilant for any violations of the law. Virginia has recently passed a law that prohibits the discriminatory removal of live saving treatment based on disability, age or chronic illness. VSHL worked hard to get that language into our code two years ago. Let’s not ignore our own laws now.