CPR and 18 Massachusetts disability and legal services organizations urged Governor Baker to immediately adopt and disseminate mandatory statewide guidelines to ensure that life-saving care is not illegally withheld or removed from disabled residents. Co-signers presented a set of non-discrimination principles advanced by the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities, and advocated for statewide guidelines mandating individualized and objective medical standards that deny or remove care only when continued treatment would be futile.
Without the creation of a statewide policy, and a meaningful appeal process, the exercise of medical discretion across the Commonwealth will be largely unchecked, unguided, and subject to wide variation. Reliance on highly subjective decision-making, places even greater responsibility and stress on treating professionals. It also presents the unacceptable risk that misplaced societal views about the relative quality or value of the lives of people with disabilities will result in their denial of life-saving treatment.
Massachusetts has an opportunity to be a national leader on these issues, by acting to establish equitable, democratic and nondiscriminatory standards of care before scarcity begins driving medical decisions across the Commonwealth.
Massachusetts advocates’ letter on discriminatory rationing of care can be found here.
You can find more information on Office of Civil Rights complaint filed in Washington state, and treatment rationing issues during the COVID-19 pandemic here and more information on the Alabama complaint here.
For more on the federal response to the COVID-19 crisis and its impact on people with disabilities, visit our webpage.