Part 2 of this panel discussion with law and bioethics experts focuses on the intersection of disability rights and the rationing medical resources.
Key discussion points include:
- Existing federal laws protect the rights of persons with disabilities, including the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and the Rehabilitation Act.
- The Affordable Care Act (ACA) prohibits discrimination in health care on the basis of disability, as well as several other factors (e.g., age, race, national origin).
- The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in public services (such as state-owned hospitals) or public accommodations (including hospitals).
- Discrimination under the ADA includes denying individuals with disabilities equal opportunity to benefit from public accommodation.
- Discrimination under the ADA also includes a failure to make individualized accommodations and reasonable modifications to ensure equal access.
- Rationing policies that save more lives will also save more lives of persons with disabilities as a whole.
- Rationing policies that emphasize quality of life may disadvantage persons with disabilities due to existing biases.
- Prioritization should include frontline health care workers because their absence due to illness will result in further resource scarcity to the detriment of population health.
- First-come, first-served policies may disadvantage persons with barriers to accessing health care facilities.
- Prioritization should respond to changes in the best available scientific evidence.
- Patients with COVID-19 should neither be favored nor disfavored relative to other patients in access to scarce resources.
- Rationing decisions should be based on the ability of the resource to help the patient to survive the present condition, rather than on the basis of a distinct pre-existing condition or disability.
- Rationing policies that exclude or deprioritize persons on the basis of a pre-existing disability, including those using judgements of quality of life or long-term life expectancy potentially influenced by embedded biases, may be legally invalid.