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Warren, Casey urge protections for disabled and older adults amid coronavirus pandemic

Warren, Casey urge protections for disabled and older adults amid coronavirus pandemic
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A group of Democratic senators penned a letter to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) on Friday urging the administration to ensure that older and disabled adults receive medical treatment for the novel coronavirus.

Sens. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenBiden to tap Rohit Chopra to lead CFPB, Gensler for SEC chair: reports Biden tax-hike proposals face bumpy road ahead Porter loses seat on House panel overseeing financial sector MORE (D-Mass.) and Bob CaseyRobert (Bob) Patrick CaseyDemocrats looking to speed through Senate impeachment trial Capitol Police officer hailed as hero for drawing rioters away from Senate chamber Scranton dedicates 'Joe Biden Way' to honor president-elect MORE Jr. (D-Pa.) led the group of Democrats urging HHS Secretary Alex Azar and other top health officials to recognize certain "principles" regarding providing treatment to older Americans and disabled adults amid the pandemic.

"We urge you to use your legal authority to ensure the United States health care system and our health care professionals abstain from using disability and aging characteristics to limit access to necessary medical treatment," the lawmakers wrote

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"Denying treatment for COVID-19 related illnesses based on disability or age alone is completely unacceptable, even in the face of shortages," the letter added.

The senators applauded the administration for indicating it would enforce provisions of the Affordable Care Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Rehabilitation Act. 

The administration issued a bulletin on Saturday saying it was still enforcing civil rights laws prohibiting discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, disability, age and sex.

"Persons with disabilities should not be denied medical care on the basis of stereotypes, assessments of quality of life, or judgments about a person's relative 'worth' based on the presence or absence of disabilities or age," Roger Severino, director of HHS's Office for Civil Rights, wrote.

In their letter Friday, the Senate Democrats urged the administration to recognize several "principles" surrounding the issue, including working to prohibit perceptions about quality of life for older adults and those with disabilities from being used to deny care, and prohibiting using "relative non-negligible survival probabilities" to justify a lower level of care.

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The lawmakers also requested the prohibition of "denial or lower relative priority for care" based on available resources, and a requirement of individualized, "evidence-based assessment" for all patients regardless of their medical status.

Other Democrats who signed the letter include Sens. Maggie HassanMargaret (Maggie) HassanBipartisan group of senators: The election is over Seven Senate races to watch in 2022 Insurers lose multiyear lobbying fight over surprise medical bills MORE (N.H.), Kirsten GillibrandKirsten GillibrandDemocrats looking to speed through Senate impeachment trial With Senate at stake, Georgia is on all our minds Build trust in vaccines by investing in community workers MORE (N.Y.), Chris Van HollenChristopher (Chris) Van Hollen'I saw my life flash before my eyes': An oral history of the Capitol attack Trump administration finalizes rollback of migratory bird protections David Sirota: Democrats gave away leverage in forcing vote on ,000 checks MORE (Md.), Chris MurphyChristopher (Chris) Scott MurphySenate Democrats leery of nixing filibuster Democratic senator: COVID-19 relief is priority over impeachment trial Lawmakers push back on late Trump terror designation for Yemen's Houthis MORE (Conn.), Sherrod BrownSherrod Campbell BrownFacebook temporarily bans ads for weapons accessories following Capitol riots Biden and the new Congress must protect Americans from utility shutoffs Streamlining the process of prior authorization for medical and surgical procedures MORE (Ohio) and Tim KaineTimothy (Tim) Michael Kaine'I saw my life flash before my eyes': An oral history of the Capitol attack 7 surprise moments from a tumultuous year in politics Robert E. Lee statue removed from US Capitol MORE (Va.).

The virus does have significantly more harmful and sometimes fatal symptoms for people over the age of 50 or those who are immunocompromised.

A Washington Post analysis published Wednesday showed more than 750 people under the age of 50 have died from COVID-19 related complications in the U.S.