Idaho is being sued for discriminating against the elderly by rationing medical care.


Idaho is being sued for discriminating against the elderly by rationing medical care.

According to the Associated Press, Justice in Aging, an older adult advocacy group, has petitioned the US Department of Health and Human Services to examine Idaho’s health care rationing plan, claiming it discriminates against the elderly.

The crisis care standards, which went into effect in Idaho this month in response to a COVID-19 outbreak, are intended to target scarce resources, such as ventilators, to the patients who are most likely to survive.

Idaho’s crisis criteria, according to Justice in Aging, are ageist since they utilize a patient’s age as a tiebreaker when two similar patients require the same resources.

Because of Idaho’s crisis criteria, “older individuals are under substantial risk of discrimination, ending in death,” Justice for Aging attorneys said in their lawsuit letter.

See the list below for more Associated Press reporting.

“The tiebreaker language in Idaho is not restricted to cases when the two people receiving care have huge age differences,” Justice in Aging’s attorneys wrote to Health and Human Services’ Office of Civil Rights Acting Director Robinsue Frohboese. It would be used in circumstances when there is minimal difference, such as a 60-year-old guy and a 61-year-old man, according to its terms.”

“When they are so clinically comparable that a tie-breaker is required, this would result in the ridiculous and ageist result of denying care to the 61-year-old man merely because he is as little as one year older,” the letter continued.

Greg Stahl, a spokesman for the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare, said Friday that the department was unaware of the complaint.

In an email to the Associated Press, Stahl stated, “The Patient Care Strategies for Scarce Resource Situations document is anchored in ethical obligations that include the duty to care, the duty to steward resources, distributive and procedural justice, and transparency.”

“Its underlying principle is that all lives are valuable, and no patients will be treated differently because of their disability, race, color, national origin, age, sex, gender, or exercise of conscience and religion.”

Similar concerns have been made in recent months in other states. In response to complaints from Justice in Aging and other disability rights and civil rights organizations, public health officials in Arizona, Utah, and northern Texas have adjusted their crisis care plans since the pandemic began.

To assist clinicians, Idaho’s criteria include a “Sequential Organ Failure Assessment” or “SOFA” score. This is a condensed version of the information.


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