Complaint Brings Welcome Improvements to Tennessee's Guidelines on Access to Healthcare during a Crisis

  • June 26, 2020

Disability Rights Tennessee and other disability rights advocates brought a complaint to the Office of Civil Rights (OCR) alleging discriminatory policies within Tennessee's crisis standards of care (CSC) plan which outlines how healthcare resources are allocated during a crisis. As a result, Tennessee has improved its policies ensuring that Tennesseans with disabilities have access to healthcare during a health crisis, like COVID-19. 

Key revisions to the guidelines include:

  • Removal of categorical exclusions based on disability in favor of individual assessments.  An individual can no longer be excluded from treatment based solely on a diagnosed disability.
  • Narrowing the scope of survivability assessments from one year to imminent survival.
  • Requiring reasonable modifications when necessary due to disability. This includes modifications to survivability assessment tools. For example, a person’s speech disability may negatively impact these assessments even though she does not have a lower likelihood of imminent survival.

“We appreciate Tennessee’s prompt response to our complaint and willingness to meet the needs of people with disabilities by addressing issues beyond those we initially raised,” said Brian Keller, Public Policy Attorney at Disability Rights Tennessee, on the updated policies. Beyond its impact in Tennessee, this exciting resolution may now be used as a best practice model for other states.  

Find more COVID-19 information and resources

If you have issues with healthcare rationing, visitor policies, or other issues related to COVID-19, contact DRT at 1-800-324-1660 or at GetHelp@DisabilityRightsTN.org.

Disability Rights Tennessee (DRT) is a nonprofit legal services organization that provides free legal advocacy services to protect the rights of Tennesseans with disabilities.

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