Patients threatened by repair medicine, by Betsy McCaughey
If you are white and middle class, the push for “fairness” in health care could kill you.
Leading medical organizations and the Biden administration are pushing for rules that will put “underprivileged” populations at the forefront of scarce medical resources – think vaccines, ventilators, monoclonal antibody treatments. This means everyone is waiting longer, in some cases too long.
If the public doesn’t back down quickly, getting fair treatment in the hospital will become as difficult as entering college or being hired on your own merits.
Last week, the New York Post reported that the New York City Task Force on Racial Inclusion and Equity had prioritized the distribution of COVID-19 test kits in 31 neighborhoods. The racially diverse north coast of Staten Island got 13 test sites, while the predominantly white south coast got none.
Meanwhile, the state’s health ministry has announced that rare monoclonal antibody treatments will be allocated to patients based on those with the most risk factors. Risk factors include age, immunization status, medical conditions, and, you guessed it, “non-white race or Hispanic / Latino ethnicity.”
If this outrage only occurred in New York, the remedies would be simple. Voters have already kicked out Mayor Bill de Blasio, who saw virtually everything through a racial lens. But federal public health officials, and virtually the entire academic medical establishment, are pushing medicine for remedies.
As the country prepares to roll out vaccines in fall 2020, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention called on states to submit their distribution plans. On September 16, 2020, the agency urged them to prioritize disadvantaged groups, including “people from racial and ethnic minority groups,” for vaccine supplies and appointments instead of distributing resources from equally. Thirty-four states have complied.
Most used the CDC’s Social Vulnerability Index, which ranks every American neighborhood based on 15 factors, including density, income, race, and language. While two domains are similar in most factors, the one with a higher minority or non-English speaking population gets the highest scores and more resources.
North Carolina has asked local authorities to reserve 40% of daily immunization appointments for historically marginalized populations.
University of Pennsylvania medical ethicists Harald Schmidt and Rebecca Weintraub, who reviewed state plans in the journal Nature Medicine, urge officials to “universalize” these preferences.
It is one thing to wait for a vaccine or a test kit; It’s another to go to the back of the line for an intensive care bed or ventilator. On April 21, 2020, in response to the pandemic, the University of Pittsburgh’s Department of Critical Care Medicine adopted a plan to triage critically ill patients when beds and ventilators run out.
Patients get a score based on the likelihood of their survival, given their organ function and other diseases. But instead of assigning intensive care, based solely on the odds of survival, Pitt will now add a “correction factor,” based on the patient’s zip code. Patients from the most disadvantaged neighborhoods will see their scores increase, surpassing others with the same medical conditions. But patients don’t want to worry about receiving less care because of their skin color or zip code.
Pitt defends focusing on the needs of the “most disadvantaged”.
Pitt insists that triage decisions will be made by a committee, never by the patient’s doctor. It is not a surprise. The ploy violates the Hippocratic Oath, which commits a doctor to do everything possible for each patient, not to refuse treatment for reasons of social justice or even for another patient in the hallway.
Meanwhile, a group of Oregon doctors lobbied the Oregon Health Authority to adopt a triage system similar to Pitt’s, taking into account the patient’s home address as well as medical conditions. And doctors at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston are pushing for a “redress framework” to compensate for past discrimination in access to the cardiovascular unit.
These schemes should be horrible for most Americans. No one wants to be a victim of racism in medicine.
Betsy McCaughey is a former Lieutenant Governor of New York and author of “The Next Pandemic”, available on Amazon.com. Follow her on Twitter @Betsy_McCaughey. To learn more about Betsy McCaughey and read articles from other Creators Syndicate authors and designers, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.
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