CPR and Partners File First OCR Complaint Regarding Discrimination in No-Visitor Hospital Policies

May 4, 2020

The Center for Public Representation, Disability Rights Connecticut, and partners filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Civil Rights (HHS OCR) today regarding the failure to provide people with disabilities with reasonable accommodations to hospital no-visitor policies in effect during the COVID-19 pandemic.

This is the first OCR complaint filed regarding a state’s hospital visitor policies during this pandemic, and follows several other complaints filed by CPR and partners regarding states’ discriminatory medical rationing policies.

The complaint focuses on recent guidance issued by the state of Connecticut that puts many people with disabilities at risk of unequal access to medical treatment, 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). The state’s guidance only allows a support person to accompany someone with an intellectual or developmental disability (IDD) who is served by the state’s Department of Developmental Services (DDS), denying other disabled people in the state of Connecticut the reasonable accommodations they need to access medical services and are entitled to under the law. Numerous other states, including  New Jersey, California and New York, have issued policies requiring hospitals to make reasonable modifications to their no-visitor policies for people with a range of disabilities.

You can read the full complaint here and the press release here. More on the federal response to the coronavirus crisis and its impact on people with disabilities can be found on our COVID-19 webpage, which has links to pages on medical rationing, COVID-19 related legislation, advocacy, and other topics.