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Advocacy Groups Call on HHS Office of Civil Rights to Issue Guidance on Fair Medical Resource Allocation During COVID-19

April 14, 2020   |   Alliance for Aging Research Team   |   COVID-19, Health Disparities

On April 13, 2020, 46 aging advocacy, patient, family caregiver, and other organizations sent a letter to the Honorable Alex Azar, Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), and Roger Severino, Director of the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) within HHS, urging them to ensure that, if the COVID-19 pandemic results in government decisions to ration treatment, that those decisions about how medical treatment is allocated are made without discriminating based on race, color, national origin, disability, age, sex, or exercise of conscience and religion.

The letter applauded OCR’s efforts to investigate whether state-mandated rationing plans comply with civil rights laws; however, the letter also called on OCR to immediately develop detailed guidance on how medical resources should be fairly allocated during the COVID-19 pandemic. The letter stated that “the guidance should be clear on what constitutes unlawful discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, disability, age, sex, and exercise of conscience and religion in HHS-funded programs as it relates to the allocation of limited resources due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This should include determinations concerning the denial, removal, or suspension of health care and services based on perceptions concerning ‘social worth’, quality of life, life years remaining, or the intensity of services needed. OCR guidance should also remind all entities covered by civil rights authorities to keep in mind their obligations under all laws and regulations that prohibit discrimination.”

The letter was signed by the 46 organizations listed below. Click here to read the letter.

ADAPT of Texas
Aging Life Care Association
Alliance for Aging Research
Alzheimer’s Foundation of America
American Academy of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation
American Association for Geriatric Psychiatry
American Association on Health and Disability
American Council of the Blind
American Diabetes Association
American Geriatrics Society
American Kidney Fund
American Society of Consultant Pharmacists
Arthritis Foundation
Cancer Support Community
Caregiver Action Network
Center for Public Representation
Community Catalyst
Diabetes Patient Advocacy Coalition (DPAC)
Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund (DREDF)
GO2 Foundation for Lung Cancer
International Association for Indigenous Aging
Justice in Aging
Lakeshore Foundation
LEAD Coalition (Leaders Engaged on Alzheimer’s Disease)
Men’s Health Network
National Adult Protective Services Association
National Alliance for Caregiving
National Asian Pacific Center on Aging (NAPCA)
National Association of Area Agencies on Aging
National Association of Councils on Developmental Disabilities
National Association of Social Workers
National Association of State Directors of
Developmental Disabilities Services
National Consumers League
National Diabetes Volunteer Leadership Council
National Health Council
National Hispanic Council on Aging
Partnership to Fight Chronic Disease
Prevent Blindness
The Gerontological Society of America
The Jewish Federations of North America
The Mended Hearts, Inc
WomenHeart: The National Coalition for Women with Heart Disease

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