Elderly And Disabled People Should Not Be Put At The Back Of The Line For COVID Care

Elderly And Disabled People Should Not Be Put At The Back Of The Line For COVID Care


When the Titanic sank in 1912, the captain famously ordered women and children be loaded first onto the precious few lifeboats. While the code of chivalry may have changed in the ensuing decades, the need to plan for the unthinkable has not.

The ongoing surge in COVID-19 cases is forcing hospitals to face the awful question of who will receive life-saving care and who will be denied if resources run out. How we respond to this moment, especially to the most vulnerable among us, will be a reflection and test of our national character.

As the director of the Office for Civil Rights at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, I tasked my colleagues with reviewing state triage and emergency hospital rationing plans — known as Crisis Standards of Care — after receiving several complaints from advocates early during the pandemic. We were shocked to find instances of blatant discrimination against people with disabilities and older Americans

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