Disability Discrimination Complaint Filed Over COVID-19 Treatment Rationing Plan in Tennessee

CREEC and other disability rights advocacy organizations joined Disability Rights Tennessee (DRT) and The Arc Tennessee (The Arc TN) to file a Complaint with the Office of Civil Rights for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services on Friday, March 27, 2020 about Tennessee’s Guidance for the Ethical Use of Scarce Resources during a Health Emergency.

As COVID-19 cases increase, the experience in other countries and predictions of United States health officials is that there will not be enough acute care services or equipment, such as ventilators, to meet the demand of
patients with the virus who require intensive treatment. Health care professionals in the U.S. are already developing protocols for responding to COVID-19, including treatment rationing that will determine who will and will not have access to life-saving treatment.

The complaint voices grave concern that Tennessee’s guidelines for rationing discriminate against people with disabilities in violation of federal disability rights laws, including the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act (Section 504) and Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and place their lives at serious risk. This complaint about Tennessee’s guidelines along with similar complaints about guidelines in other states call upon the OCR to take immediate action to address this discrimination and assist states and health care providers to develop non-discriminatory approaches before there are lethal consequences to application of these illegal policies.


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