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Sometimes laws come about in unusual ways. At CAP, we review needed legislation every year and talk with lawmakers about how to get things done. But last year, in the midst of COVID, an article in the local paper struck me. Advocacy groups had filed a lawsuit claiming Arizona’s Crisis Standards of Care discriminated against older Arizonans, people of color, and those with disabilities. COVID had forced health care workers to consider the potential of rationing care. The standards they used in triage were based on “life expectancy,” which put older citizens and those with disabilities up against those without such considerations when deciding who gets critical care and who does not. This was not on our radar.

That was the beginning of a lengthy legislative process leading to a new law that goes into effect Sept. 29th. Any Crisis Standards of Care in Arizona must now be based on “short term survival” to ensure they do not discriminate against the most vulnerable Arizonans.

Any Crisis Standards of Care adopted by Arizona’s Department of Health Services must be updated within 60 days of implementation and include the following provisions:

  1. The allocation of health care resources must be based on valuing all life.
  2. A patient or the patient’s health care decision-maker has the right to make the patient’s health care choices.
  3. Decisions on the allocation of health care resources may not discriminate on the basis of disability, age, race, religion, sex, veteran status or income status.
  4. Health care providers may consider only short-term survival when making decisions regarding the allocation of health care resources. (Short-term survival means a near-term survival from the episode of care that directly resulted from the illness or injury that required hospitalization).
  5. Treatment resources may not be allocated based on any of the following:

(a) quality of life judgments.

(b) consideration of long-term mortality and long-term life expectancy.

(c) resource intensity and duration of need due to disability or age.

  1. Each patient has the right to an individualized assessment on the basis of the best available objective medical evidence, and not on assumptions about the patient’s perceived health, preexisting conditions or medical diagnosis.
  2. Persons with disabilities and the aged have the right to reasonable modifications to ensure that all patients have equal access to medical care, including reasonable modification in patient assessment, communication and support needs due to disability or age.
  3. A patient or the patient’s family or health care decision-maker has the right to appeal any triage decision.
  4. A health care provider or health care institution staff member may not require a patient or the patient’s health care decision-maker to do either of the following:

(a) Sign a do-not-resuscitate order.

(b) Make a particular health care treatment decision.

  1. Representatives of the state protection and advocacy agency, and advocates for the aged, shall be members of the state disaster medical advisory committee, which is responsible for developing the Crisis Standards of Care and other incident-specific priorities and guidance for delivering health care, and using scarce medical resources during a public health emergency.

The testimony and input from the Arizona Center for Disability Law was pivotal in pointing out the need for a legislative response. We appreciate the leadership in this effort of our friends at the Arizona Catholic Conference. Senator Nancy Barto and Representative Gail Griffin sponsored the bills.

 Making Way for Religious Rights

A second COVID-19 related law came about in the aftermath of countless stories of loved ones dying alone in the hospital from the virus without clergy visits. If health care workers could be protected enough to care for the physical needs of COVID-19 patients, then so could clergy be protected to care for the spiritual needs.

That led to a new law requiring hospitals that allow any visitation, to also allow clergy visitations.

The law requires:

  1. If a hospital’s visitation policy allows in-person visitation of any kind and if authorized by the patient or the patient’s representative, the hospital must facilitate the ability of clergy to visit the patient in person for religious purposes.
  2. Clergy must comply with reasonable health and safety precautions imposed by hospitals in connection with in-person visitation.
  3. If a hospital’s visitation policy does not allow in-person visitation of any kind, at all times or temporarily for health and safety reasons, the hospital must facilitate a virtual clergy visit using communication technology.

Representative Quang Nguyen sponsored the legislation.

ICYMI

  • Google censored Live Action ads about the Abortion Pill Rescue in a coordinated attack on the pro-life message. Listen to today’s podcast on the Abortion Pill Rescue
  • Breakpoint explains how religious institutions that are “not religious enough” are losing their religious freedoms.
  • New York’s Governor wants Facebook to censor abortion information in response to Texas’ new heartbeat law.
  • Susan B. Anthony List’s president spells out how the Texas Heartbeat Act can spread to other states and lead to the undoing of
  • Today is Constitution Day, the day the framers signed the U.S. Constitution 240 years ago. The Heritage Foundation looks at how “Americans know more about the Kardashians than they do the Constitution.”

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