Gov. order seeks to stop health discrimination for age, race, gender or disability

    Susan J. Demas

    Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has signed a new executive order that aims to cut down on discriminatory decisions regarding who receives health care access.

    Her latest order, EO 2020-64, will require health care facilities to establish anti-discrimination protocols to be used in the event that demand for hospital or health care facilities surges past availability. This has been a concern during the COVID-19 crisis.

    The order says Michigan residents have the right to receive medical attention without being asked discriminatory questions based on their race, gender, perceived quality of life or disabilities. It requires health care providers to practice non-discrimination and support the needs of individuals as best they can.

    “Michigan has one of the finest health care systems in the country, and our medical professionals are performing heroically under trying circumstances,” Whitmer said in a news release. “But the unprecedented challenges posed by this pandemic have created a heightened need for clear, transparent protocols based on a common understanding of core values, including equitable access to care.”

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    Per the order, health care facilities must:

    • Establish patient care protocols for when demand for resources exceeds availability. Protocols need to prohibit discriminatory decision-making on who receives care. 
    • Devise protocols using the state’s best available medical evidence.
    • Provide sign language interpreters to patients if they request them. 
    • Give interpreters access to personal protective equipment, if necessary. 
    • Work to coordinate and share information with the state Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) about resource availability and ability to transfer patients.
    • Make protocols available online and provide them to patients if they request them.  

    The order requires hospitals and facilities housing hospital overflow to develop nondiscrimination protocols. It will stay in effect until emergency and disaster declarations in Michigan are lifted. 

    “Everyone, no matter who they are, deserves access to quality, affordable health care, especially during a pandemic,” Whitmer said. “This executive order helps ensure all individuals, no matter their circumstances, have equitable access to these critical resources as we continue to fight this deadly disease.” 

    C.J. Moore
    C.J. Moore covers the environment and the Capitol. She previously worked at NASA’s Glenn Research Center in Cleveland as a public affairs staff science writer. She also previously covered crop sustainability and coal pollution issues for Great Lakes Echo. In addition, she served as editor in chief at The State News and covered its academics and research beat. She is a journalism graduate student at Michigan State University.