What is medical rationing?

When the COVID-19 Pandemic first arrived in the U.S. many hospitals in hotspot areas were overwhelmed. When there are not enough resources for everyone, hospital staff face the impossible job of deciding who will get life-saving care, and who will not. This is called medical rationing.

Medical rationing is a terrifying concept. But the State does not leave these decisions up to chance. Every state must come up with a “Scare Resource Protocol” (“Protocol”) – a set of guidelines for making that decision in the event that resources run out. This plan should be examined to make sure it does not discriminate against people with disabilities.

DRNC carefully followed the draft of North Carolina’s Protocol back in March, 2020. The danger it posed for people with disabilities deeply concerned us. Some of the language in that draft puts people with disabilities at risk of discrimination. At the time, DRNC wrote a letter to Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, Dr. Mandy Cohen, urging her to revise the protocol. We also filed a complaint with the US Office of Civil Rights (OCR). Secretary Cohen never responded and the OCR complaint is still pending.

Why we are talking about medical rationing again?

Cases are going up again, and hospitalizations as well. All over the country, hospitals are running low on supplies and staff. Health officials have warned that we will likely see a huge increase in the coming weeks because of Thanksgiving travel.

In light of these numbers, we sent another letter to the Secretary yesterday, December 1, 2020. We expressed our concerns and explained that the current protocol is discriminatory as written and must be revised.

As we said in the letter, DRNC will not stand by if the State adopts this Protocol. We urge the Secretary to place equal value on the lives of North Carolinians with disabilities and adopt a non-discriminatory Protocol.