State policies may send people with disabilities to the back of the line for ventilators – Center for Public Integrity

From The Center for Public Integrity: For More Info, Go Here…

ngd- This is the most complete article I’ve seen on medical rationing of treatment to people with disabilities. It is well worth your while to read it in its entirety to grasp what is happening to our community under the guise of triage…

Before the coronavirus, Matthew Foster dressed up as the giant mouse Chuck E. Cheese for work, hung out with his girlfriend in a Barnes & Noble coffee shop and every Wednesday went to the movies with friends.

Now he FaceTimes his girlfriend, talks to his reading coach on Zoom and helps his mother around the house.

The 37-year-old stays close to home. If he gets COVID-19, his family fears for his life.

That’s because Foster has Down syndrome, and he lives in Alabama, where people with “severe mental retardation … may be poor candidates” for a ventilator if hospitals run short during this pandemic, according to a state policy that until recently was posted on the Alabama Department of Public Health’s website.

After disability advocates complained, the state took down the policy and pointed to new, vague guidance. But Foster and his family are still apprehensive.

“I’m scared for Matthew,” his mother, Susan Ellis, said. “I was outraged and still am that any decision-maker or policy-maker in our state would think so little of people with intellectual disabilities that they would actually say an IQ score determines whether you live or die.”

Alabama isn’t the only state where people with disabilities and their loved ones have reason to worry.

Where rationing policies could harm people with disabilities

Disability advocates have already filed formal complaints about four states’ policies on who should get ventilators if hospitals run out as coronavirus cases surge. But policies in 21 other states also have similar provisions. And many other states don’t have policies or aren’t releasing them — and that could also lead to discrimination, disability advocates say.

The Center for Public Integrity analyzed policies and guidelines from 30 states meant to direct how hospitals should ration ventilators if they don’t have enough. All but five had provisions of the sort advocates fear will send people with disabilities to the back of the line for life-saving treatment.

These policies take into account — in ways that disability advocates say are inappropriate — patients’ expected lifespan; need for resources, such as home oxygen; or specific diagnoses, such as dementia. Some even permit hospitals to take ventilators away from patients who use them as breathing aids in everyday life and give them to other patients.

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