OCR Seeks Info on Addressing Incapacity Discrimination in Well being Care and Youngster Welfare Contexts

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Civil Rights Office (OCR) announced today that it has issued an Information Request (RFI) regarding health care and child welfare discrimination based on disability. In conducting its Section 504 enforcement actions, OCR has become aware that significant disability discrimination may still exist in the country’s health and child welfare system. OCR has received reports of discriminatory practices from researchers, lawyers, organizations of people with disabilities, as well as the agency’s own enforcement, monitoring and technical support activities.

OCR has carried out a review of its existing disability non-discrimination rules and is considering revising the rules to address important and urgent issues raised in recent years related to health care and child welfare. Given the broad scope of the issues under consideration, OCR believes it appropriate to seek public comments on the key issues that future updates to such regulations would or should address.

To do this, OCR seeks information on Disability Discrimination in relation to:

  • Organ transplantation, including discrimination based on refusal to make reasonable changes to persons with disabilities seeking a transplant;
  • Life-saving or life-sustaining care, including inappropriately influencing or directing people with disabilities to withdraw life-saving or life-sustaining care as well as denial of care due to medical futility;
  • Suicide prevention and treatment programs, including improperly influencing or directing people with disabilities to provide lifelong services based on disability;
  • Crisis standards for care at the state and provider level;
  • Methods for assessing health value, including the use of measures that assign percentages to the lives of individuals or groups of people with disabilities based on their disability or based on assessments of quality or relative worth.
  • Child welfare, including discrimination against parents and potential parents with disabilities in the context of the child care system; and
  • Availability of resources and accessible medical equipment.

The RFI asks for information on the types of discrimination that occur in these areas and the costs and administrative burdens associated with possible approaches to combat this discrimination. OCR welcomes feedback from stakeholders and covered institutions, including people with disabilities, family members, provider organizations, disability organizations, hospitals, medical providers, social workers, case workers, state and local children’s charities, and other participants in the child welfare system.

“We believe that people with disabilities should not be discriminated against in essential health and personal services such as organ transplants, suicide prevention, life-saving care and child welfare,” said Roger Severino, OCR Director. “We believe the American public believes that people with disabilities deserve full legal protection, and we seek public input to help us achieve that goal in the most momentous, life-changing contexts.”

The RFI can be found at https://www.hhs.gov/civil-rights/for-individuals/disability/index.html.

For more information on protecting civil rights through OCR, see https://www.hhs.gov/civil-rights/index.html.

Learn more about non-discrimination based on gender, race, color, national origin, age and disability; Conscience and freedom of religion; The laws on protecting the privacy of health information and filing a complaint with OCR can be found at www.hhs.gov/ocr.

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