AARP Utah - Age Must Not Factor Into Allocating Scarce Health Care Resources
As hospitals and health systems reach capacity and implement Crisis Standards of Care due to COVID-19, the age of a patient must not be a consideration for receiving care.
MIDVALE, Utah, October 27, 2020 (Newswire.com) - AARP Utah opposes the use of age (or any other discriminatory factor) as a criterion for deciding who gets care during the pandemic and who doesn't. We have asked Governor Gary Herbert to take immediate action to remove any discrimination based on age in "tiebreaker" situations and reissue revised Crisis Standards of Care that reflect this change.
Based on Utah's current guidelines, an individual's age can be used as a factor after he or she has gone through the first three steps of triage and a tiebreaker is necessary:
Tiebreakers: Because younger persons generally have better short-term mortality outcomes than older persons with the same clinical condition, when after individualized assessments of short-term mortality risk, not all patients with similar MSOFAs can be given ICU/ventilator care, relative youth may be used as a tiebreaker.
"The tiebreaker language in the current guidelines is directly at odds with the Americans with Disabilities Act, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, the Age Discrimination Act, and Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act. These federal laws prohibit age-discrimination in HHS funded health programs or activities," said Alan Ormsby, AARP Utah State Director. "Using age to determine who gets care and who doesn't is wholly inappropriate."
AARP Utah has made the following recommendations to the Governor:
- Remove any language in the Crisis Standards of Care Guidelines that discriminates solely on the basis of age. So-called tiebreakers should not use as a factor age, "life years," life expectancy, or prognosis beyond immediate short-term survival.
- Ensure that the practical implementation of the Crisis Standards of Care do not use age as a discriminatory criteria by issuing clear guidelines to health care practitioners.
- Provide clear, easily understandable notice to patients, their families, and/or their caregivers that age-discrimination in COVID-19 care allocation is impermissible, with steps to appeal and remedy suspected age-discrimination.
- Implement an ongoing and fully transparent review process to verify that health care systems are adhering to correct policy/protocols when implementing Crisis Standards of Care to ensure that no group has been disproportionately excluded from life-saving treatment based on discrimination.
AARP is the nation's largest nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to empowering people 50 and older to choose how they live as they age. With a nationwide presence and nearly 38 million members, AARP strengthens communities and advocates for what matters most to families: health security, financial stability and personal fulfillment. AARP also produces the nation's largest circulation publications: AARP The Magazine and AARP Bulletin. To learn more, visit www.aarp.org or follow @AARP and @AARPadvocates on social media.
Source: AARP Utah