LANSING, Mich. — Sen. Stephanie Chang (D-Detroit) and Rep. Jon Hoadley (D-Kalamazoo) today introduced legislation that would prevent health care providers from discriminating against, and not providing treatment to, any person based on a variety of factors — including disability or perception of quality of life — in a state of emergency or disaster.

Under the bill, hospitals would be required to create policies to:

  • Prohibit medical decision-making based on social stigma stereotypes;
  • Provide for coordinating and sharing of information with the Department of Health and Human Services regarding resource and transfer availability; and,
  • Ensure that withholding care due to lack of critical resources is a last resort.

“Our frontline workers have done so much during this pandemic, and we are eternally grateful for that. Our work must continue to ensure adequate health care services are provided to everyone — including people with disabilities and chronic health conditions — when they need it most, especially during this pandemic and any future pandemic,” Sen. Chang said. “The idea that any person is ‘less than’ or does not deserve the same chance to live is a dangerous concept. There is no place for such a mindset in today’s society and I hope that this pandemic will remind us why policies promoting non-discrimination in health care are needed.”

Senate Bill 1008, sponsored by Sen. Chang, and House Bill 5930, sponsored by Rep. Hoadley, would also be in keeping with the U.S. Office for Civil Rights and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ guidance about providing care during the pandemic or other times when rationing of medical supplies may be necessary.

“We’re working hard every day to make sure no one is denied opportunities based on stereotypes and stigma related to who they are or who they love, especially when it comes to life or death medical decisions,” Rep. Hoadley said. “In emergency situations, patients and their families deserve medical decisions based on science with transparency in how those decisions will be made. These bills are the solution.”

The legislation comes amid valid concerns about protocols employed by health systems during the COVID-19 pandemic that have explicitly de-prioritized people for treatments based on pre-existing disabilities.

“Every day, and especially during public health emergencies, people with disabilities deserve the peace of mind that we will not be discriminated against in accessing health care,” said Dessa Coma, executive director of Detroit Disability Power. “Our lives are equally as valuable as other people’s. We support this legislation which seeks to affirm in law that our civil rights are not negotiable during crises.”

The legislation would codify Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s Executive Order 2020-64, which affirmed the right to receive medical care without discrimination during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.