Gillibrand demands equitable healthcare for elderly and disabled during Covid-19

Posted 15 April 2020 at 8:40 am

Press Release, U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand

WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, member of the Senate Aging Committee, called on U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Administrator Seema Verma, and HHS Office for Civil Rights (OCR) Director Roger Severino to ensure the equitable distribution of health care during the COVID-19 pandemic.

As the coronavirus outbreak strains New York’s health care system, Senator Gillibrand expressed concern that health care providers could discriminate based on age or disability status in decisions about the provision of lifesaving treatment to those who are most likely to survive.

Aging and disability bias for coronavirus treatment would devastate New York’s growing aging population and large community of people with disabilities. Enforcing Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act, and the Rehabilitation Act would help ensure these populations are protected and that health care providers are prevented from denying care based on age or disability.

In March, Senator Gillibrand led a bipartisan, bicameral call on the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office for Civil Rights (OCR) to protect against disability discrimination in state and health provider responses to COVID-19.

“Health care is a right, regardless of age or disability,” said Senator Gillibrand. “During this crisis, we must protect New York’s older adults and people with disabilities by ensuring that everyone has access to lifesaving health care. As our health care system struggles with the surge of COVID-19 patients, it’s crucial that the administration provide clear guidelines for equitable care for all Americans.”

To ensure people with disabilities and older adults do not face discrimination for COVID-19 treatment, Senator Gillibrand and her colleagues urged HHS to prioritize the enforcement of the following principles:

  • Prohibit perceptions of quality of life of people with disabilities and older adults from being used to deny or give lower relative priority for care
  • Prohibit denial or lower relative priority for care based on relative non-negligible survival probabilities
  • Prohibit denial or lower relative priority for care based on resource intensity
  • Require individualized, evidence-based assessment

Return to top