Disability Discrimination In Health Care Under Scrutiny
Federal officials are weighing a rewrite of regulations designed to ensure that people with disabilities do not face discrimination from medical providers amid persistent concerns about unequal access.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office for Civil Rights is issuing a request for information on disability discrimination in the health care and child welfare systems.
The move comes as the agency said that it “is aware that significant discrimination on the basis of disability against persons with disabilities persists in the nation’s health care system and in its child welfare system.” In addition to reports of discrimination that have surfaced during the course of HHS OCR’s own activities, officials said that they’ve heard about issues from researchers, advocates and disability organizations.
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As a result, HHS OCR is reviewing existing relevant regulations and mulling revisions.
Now, the agency is looking for feedback on what any updates should address. Specifically, officials said they would like information about disability discrimination in the context of organ transplants, life-saving or life-sustaining care, suicide prevention and treatment, crisis standards of care, health care value assessment methodologies, child welfare and the availability of auxiliary aids and accessible medical equipment.
HHS OCR said it wants input from people with disabilities, their families, providers, disability advocates, hospitals, child welfare agencies and other stakeholders. In addition to information on discrimination, the agency indicated that it would like to hear about the costs and administrative burdens related to various approaches to tackling the issue.
“We believe that persons with disabilities should not be discriminated against in vital health and human services including organ transplants, suicide prevention, the provision of life-saving care and child welfare,” said Roger Severino, director of HHS OCR. “We believe the American public agrees that persons with disabilities deserve full protection under law and we seek public input on achieving that goal with respect to the most consequential, life-altering contexts.”
Once the request for information is published in the Federal Register, the public will have 60 days to submit comments.