COVID-19 and People with Disabilities
The Alabama Disabilities Advocacy Program (ADAP) is working full-time, but staff are working remotely.
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In considering our response to the COVID-19 crisis, ADAP has been guided by two priorities: fulfilling our mission of protecting the civil rights of persons with disabilities and safeguarding the health of our staff and of the communities in which we live and work. As public health officials have made it clear that dramatic steps are required to contain the COVID-19 virus, ADAP's physical offices have closed and all staff are working remotely until further notice. We are committed to maintaining our operations to the fullest extent possible.
What We Are Doing
Alabama Withdraws Discriminatory Ventilator Rationing Policy and Issues Directive About Non-Discrimination in Accessing Life-Saving Treatment
April 8, 2020
In response to a complaint filed with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office for Civil Rights (OCR) by the Alabama Disability Advocacy Program (ADAP) and other disability rights advocates, the state of Alabama has withdrawn its discriminatory ventilator rationing policy and instructed hospitals across the state that they cannot discriminate against people with disabilities in accessing treatment. The previous policy placed the lives of disabled adults and children at serious risk, in violation of federal law, by ordering hospitals to “not offer mechanical ventilator support for patients” with “severe or profound mental retardation,” “moderate to severe dementia,” and “severe traumatic brain injury.” The complaint was filed by the ADAP and The Arc of the United States, together with counsel from the Center for Public Representation, Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law, and Sam Bagenstos.
After receiving the complaint, OCR took swift action to reach a resolution. OCR has made clear to Alabama and states and hospitals across the country that excluding people with disabilities from access to life-saving treatment is illegal and intolerable.resolution.
In addition to withdrawing the discriminatory policies, Alabama has put in place new Crisis Standards of Care (CSC) Guidelines that contain important non-discrimination provisions. The new Guidelines do not, however, address how ventilators will be rationed in the event it becomes necessary to do so.
The State’s actions are an important first step, and we appreciate that the state of Alabama acted quickly to withdraw its discriminatory policy. But our work is not done. We call on the Governor to work with ADAP and others in the disability community to develop transparent and clear guidance on how to implement these non-discrimination requirements in the event that rationing of ventilators becomes necessary.
Copy of the press release can be found here: