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Fighting Discrimination in COVID-19 Treatment

People with disabilities know our lives are worth living — but time and time again, we have had to fight to get this message across to those in power. Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic is no exception. A number of states have made COVID-19 plans that direct medical professionals to deny care on the basis of disability if there are not enough resources for everyone who is sick. Across the U.S., many people with disabilities are living in fear that they may be denied lifesaving treatment. ASAN is taking action to make sure people with disabilities do not face discrimination during this crisis, and you can take action with us.

Working in coalition with other disability rights organizations, ASAN has filed complaints against states that have implemented discriminatory standards of care rationing, including Washington, Tennessee, Kansas, and Utah. The coalition also successfully pushed the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to issue official guidance affirming that states cannot discriminate against people with disabilities when distributing care. The coalition has created a guide on how states, hospitals and other health care providers should follow the HHS guidance, including key principles to follow to ensure fair treatment of people with disabilities. 

The coalition has also created a tool for advocates fighting discriminatory practices in their own states. This resource includes questions to help advocates figure out whether their state plans for COVID-19 include ableist standards, as well as recommendations for how to fix them.

No one is “too disabled” to deserve health care, and that’s as true during a pandemic as it is at any other time. We’ll keep fighting until all of us can rest assured that we have an equal shot at treatment if we get sick. Disabled lives are worth living, and disabled lives are worth saving — we know that, and we’ll make sure everyone else knows it too.

The Autistic Self Advocacy Network is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization run by and for autistic people. ASAN was created to serve as a national grassroots disability rights organization for the autistic community run by and for autistic Americans, advocating for systems change and ensuring that the voices of autistic people are heard in policy debates and the halls of power. Our staff work to educate communities, support self-advocacy in all its forms, and improve public perceptions of autism. ASAN’s members and supporters include autistic adults and youth, cross-disability advocates, and non-autistic family members, professionals, educators, and friends.

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