Disability And Civil Rights Groups File Formal Complaint Vs. Arizona Over Crisis Standards Of Care Plan

Published: Wednesday, July 22, 2020 - 11:34am
Updated: Thursday, July 23, 2020 - 1:00pm
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Earlier this month, civil rights and disability advocates raised concerns about Arizona’s Crisis Standards of Care Plan. They’re concerned about the plan’s impact if the state enters a triage level of care. Now, the groups have filed a formal complaint against the state.

The Arizona Center for Disability Law, along with other groups, filed the complaint with the Office for Civil Rights at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. This comes after the state failed to respond to the request to update the plan and a recent addendum.  They argue it discriminates against people with disabilities, older adults and communities of color. Jon Meyers is with the Arc of Arizona. 

"And we decided that given the severity of the situation in Arizona, given really the crisis that we are facing with hospitalizations, with rising case loads, and with the likelihood that the individuals we represent we're going to be affected by the CSC, we had to take action," he explains.

The plan tells hospitals which patients should get scarce resources based on their likelihood for survival.   

"And these are all communities that are likely to be impacted negatively by the CSC plan, if we reach the triage level, which is the highest level of crisis in our state," he says.

Meyers says the groups talked to the head of the Arizona Department of Health Services about their concerns. He said Dr. Cara Christ said she would take it to the committee that was responsible for overseeing the plan. Neither Meyers nor the others have heard back from the state.

The hospitals, though, have argued the crisis standards are necessary at a time when so much is being demanded of health care providers.

“These health care workers are our relatives, our loved ones, our neighbors, and they are working tirelessly to make sure that people are treated," Holly Ward of the Arizona Hospital and Healthcare Association said. "Anybody that walks through our doors, they are there to care for.”

But Ward said care requirements typically in place were not intended for a pandemic.

Now, providers need the kind of flexibility they’ll get under the crisis standards, as well as waivers the association has requested from the state Department of Health Services. Those waivers include things like required nutrition assessments and access to a telephone for every patient. 

“Obviously, we want to do these things, but when your emergency rooms, your [Intensive Care Unit] beds are filled, we need a little bit of flexibility to make sure we are focused on patient care and keeping people alive," Ward said.

However, Jon Meyers says this is the wrong approach. Meyers is the executive director of the ARC of Arizona, one of the groups that filed the complaint over the crisis standards of care.  The Show spoke with him for more about the situation.

Ward told The Show that the Department of Health Services has granted 16 of the waivers they’ve requested so far.

She said they are discussing any remaining waivers the association believes are necessary. For now, she said providers will continue to provide the quality of care that is always expected.

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