Capitol Correspondence - 11.19.19

NCD Sends Report to POTUS on Devaluation of Disability Lives in Health Care

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The National Council on Disability (NCD), an independent agency making recommendations to the President and Congress to enhance the lives of people with disabilities, issued the first in a series of five reports about “how the historical and continued devaluation of the lives of people with disabilities by the medical community, legislators, researchers, and even health economists, perpetuates unequal access to medical care, including lifesaving care.”

This specific report focuses on Quality Adjusted Life Year (QALY), which public and private health insurance providers have “utilized to determine the cost-effectiveness of medications and treatment. QALYs place a lower value on treatments which extend the lives of people with chronic illnesses and disabilities. In this report, NCD found sufficient evidence of the discriminatory effects of QALYs to warrant concern, including concerns raised by bioethicists, patient rights groups, and disability rights advocates about the limited access to lifesaving medications for chronic illnesses in countries where QALYs are frequently used. In addition, QALY-based programs have been found to violate the Americans with Disabilities Act.”

Readers generally interested in improving the quality of care for people with disabilities might find this unrelated article on building cross-sector partnerships informative in terms of finding solutions to the challenges of a broader medical culture that is not always aware of challenges faced by the disability community.