Update on Medical Rationing and Disability in Illinois


April 1, 2020 | by Amber Smock

Update on Medical Rationing and Disability in Illinois

Dear Access Living friends and allies,

As the COVID-19 crisis has evolved, it became clear that potential shortages of ventilators and other lifesaving approaches could cause serious problems for people with disabilities. As hospitals faced shortages or potential shortages, medical protocols began evolving that were clearly discriminatory against people with disabilities, on the basis of disability status. A working group of dedicated advocates filed federal complaints last week, regarding discriminatory protocols in several states.

Simultaneously, Access Living took the initiative to organize more than 140 Illinois organizations to send a letter to Illinois Governor JB Pritzker to ask that the State of Illinois issue guidance or a statewide protocol to medical providers that emergency lifesaving protocols should not discriminate against people with disabilities.

As a result of the community letter, we are pleased to report that State officials are working hard to develop guidance or a protocol to protect Illinoisans with disabilities, as well as any class of persons at risk of bias in lifesaving treatment. The Governor’s office has recognized that this matter is of critical importance to Illinois stakeholders and is moving rapidly to address this matter. We thank the Governor’s office for heeding our collective request for action and look forward to guidance on this matter soon.

Additionally, this past Saturday, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Civil Rights issued formal guidance to states to prohibit disability and other discrimination in emergency lifesaving treatment. This was a result of the federal complaints filed, and now advocates across the country are working with states to beat the clock to develop nondiscriminatory protocols.

For further information, you can check out this link from DREDF on medical rationing. The disabled bioethicist Dr. Joe Stramondo also has a helpful blog post on this topic at this link.

Thank you for your continued advocacy to save disabled lives.