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Legal group calls on states to end policy of racist treatment of COVID-19, threatens legal action

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Legal group calls on states to end policy of racist treatment of COVID-19, threatens legal action

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New York, Minnesota and Utah state health departments face potential lawsuits alleging they discriminate against whites by prioritizing certain minorities for rare COVID-19 treatments, in the part of a growing nationwide backlash against race-based politics.

America First Legal, a conservative legal group founded by former Trump adviser Stephen Miller, is calling on states to reverse their policies or face lawsuits for “blatant discrimination.”

“What we are seeing emerging across the country is contrary to everything we stand for as Americans,” said Gene Hamilton, the group’s general counsel. “And while the allocation of medical treatment based on skin color is not something no American would expect to see in 2022, the American people should understand that it is that of another example of the application of “fairness” by the awakened and radical left. “

In a letter to Minnesota Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm, Hamilton said the state’s “immoral and racist” policies violate several federal laws, including the Affordable Care Act.

“Rather than asking healthcare providers to assess underlying medical conditions that might increase a patient’s risk of progression to severe COVID-19 – regardless of race or ethnicity – your department is all together. non-white people in a monolithic block and made general claims about their underlying medical vulnerabilities, ”Hamilton wrote. “It doesn’t promote fairness within your population, it doesn’t respect individuals and it doesn’t protect against inequality. Instead, he subjects an entire class of citizens to unequal treatment based on the color of their skin. “

The Minnesota Department of Health uses a scoring system that assigns points to patients with certain risk factors, such as chronic kidney disease and diabetes. The department’s rating also gives two points to people with “BIPOC” status – Blacks, Aboriginals or People of color.

Whites who have the same other risk factors are therefore not given the same priority for potentially life-saving monoclonal antibody treatments as non-whites who become ill.

America First Legal has stated in its Letters to States that “directing healthcare professionals to provide or deny medical care on the basis of enduring characteristics such as skin color, regardless of the particular health conditions of individual patients. who seek out these life-saving antiviral treatments, is nothing more than an attempt to establish a racial hierarchy in the supply of life-saving drugs.

In New York City, the state health department released a memo saying that sick non-Hispanic whites can only get oral antivirals if they have a health problem or “other factors that increase their risk of. serious illness “. Non-white and Hispanic sick people are not subject to the same requirements to qualify for treatment.

Rep. Lee Zeldin, Republican from New York, said of state policy, “Dividing New Yorkers by skin color like that couldn’t be more wrong. He hopes to win the GOP nomination to face Democratic Governor Kathy Hochul in the fall.

“Governor Hochul must immediately reverse this decision,” Zeldin said. “This is an extremely confrontational and dangerous policy, and I have heard from many voters with eligible health concerns who fear they have been turned down due to this new order.”

The Utah Department of Health has also issued guidelines, based on a scorecard, indicating that healthcare professionals may consider race and ethnicity when determining eligibility for treatment. by monoclonal antibodies for COVID. The department said this week that people “who are non-white or Hispanic / Latin are 35 to 50 percent more likely to be hospitalized” than white people.

“For those who do not automatically qualify, the risk score has been developed to include other factors found to increase the risk of hospitalization and death from COVID-19,” the department said in a statement. “Each factor in the risk score represents a condition or characteristic that has been shown to put a person at high risk for serious illness or hospitalization. “

Departmental data from over 100,000 COVID-19 patients “confirms that even after controlling for age and co-morbidities, Utahns who identify from communities of color have a significantly higher risk of serious illness requiring hospitalization “.

“Public health interventions can be used to attempt to alleviate these disparities in COVID-19 by recognizing the structural inequalities that underlie them,” the department said. “One way to do this is to include race / ethnicity in the criteria for selecting patients. “

Minnesota officials said they were following recommendations from the Federal Food and Drug Administration, which advocated the policy in a fact sheet released last September and updated in December.

“Other conditions or medical factors (for example, race or ethnicity) may also put patients at a high risk of progression to severe COVID-19 and authorization of sotrovimab under the [emergency use authorization] is not limited to the medical conditions or the factors listed above, ”the document said.

Mr. Miller, president of America First Legal, called the race-based directive “an abomination.”

“These racist policies decide life and death issues based on skin color and must be repealed immediately,” he said. “Fairness is the use of raw societal power to discriminate against American citizens based on their race or other protected characteristics – and these fairness agendas that run throughout government must be abolished if liberty and l equality must survive and endure. No right is certain whether the government can grant or deny medical care on the basis of race.

Legal group calls on states to end policy of racist treatment of COVID-19, threatens legal action

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