FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
March 31, 2020
Melissa Sublett, Executive Director
Oklahoma Disability Law Center, Inc. Sends Letter to Governor Opposing Discriminatory Medical Rationing Policies – Expresses Need for Statewide Guidelines Preventing Discriminatory Allocation of Life-Saving Medical Care
Oklahoma Disability Law Center, Inc. (ODLC) urges Governor Stitt to immediately adopt and disseminate mandatory statewide guidelines to ensure that life-saving care is not illegally withheld or removed from disabled residents. ODLC advocates for statewide guidelines mandating individualized and objective medical standards that deny or remove care only when continued treatment would be futile.
As COVID-19 cases increase, the experience in other countries and predictions of U.S. health officials is that there will not be enough acute care services or equipment, such as ventilators, to meet the demand of patients with the virus who require intensive treatment. Health care professionals in the United States are already developing protocols for responding to COVID-19, including treatment rationing that will determine who will and will not have access to life-saving treatment.
“Oklahoma’s draft Hospital Crisis Standards of care plan contains many troubling provisions that would deny or remove lifesaving care from individuals with disabilities. We will not sit by as members of our community are left for dead. We stand up for those with preexisting disabilities and those with newly acquired disabilities who are impacted by COVID-19. We implore Governor Stitt to amend the current plan and provide urgently needed guidance to the health care professionals to ensure Oklahomans with disabilities are not illegally denied lifesaving care based disability,” said Melissa Sublett, Executive Director, Oklahoma Disability Law Center, Inc.
“Even in the midst of the current crisis, Oklahoma must abide by its obligation to not discriminate against people with disabilities. Lives of Oklahomans with disabilities are at stake. I urge Governor Stitt to take swift action to protect them,” said ODLC’s Legal Director, Brian Wilkerson.
FINAL- ODLC Medical Rationing Response Letter