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Board of Health and Welfare updates crisis standards of care language

Published: Nov. 10, 2021 at 5:52 PM MST
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IDAHO (KMVT/KSVT) — The revisions to the crisis standards of care language passed with a unanimous vote on Wednesday morning. Following the vote, AARP Idaho released a statement from state director Lupe Wissel applauding the change:

“AARP Idaho praises the decision by the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare and the State of Idaho Medical Advisory Committee to reverse course on the original language in the Crisis Standards of Care. From the beginning, our 185,000 members across the state saw the tiebreaker as age discrimination used to ration care. We believe, and this new language ensures, those entrusted with making health care decisions at state and local levels will be guided by current science and the clinical needs of individual patients. Using categories of age to determine whether someone receives care is wrong and we are pleased the voices of older Idahoans were heard in this process and the right decision was made.”

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The Board of Health and Welfare discussed updating the language of crisis standards of care. The updated guidance discussion comes after concern was expressed by groups such as AARP and Disability Rights Idaho.

They said people who have underlying medical conditions or are older adults might be unfairly penalized under crisis standards of care. One area of contention with the original plan is the rationing of care.

The groups disagree with the usage of a patient’s remaining “life years” as a tie-breaker for who will receive treatment if two similar patients need the same resources.

Some say age could then come into play. In an effort to address these concerns, the proposed updated guidance would have two tie-breakers.

“So when two patients are apparently at the same levels, but one of them is declining more rapidly than the other, then the resource might be allocated to someone whose decline is not as rapid,” said Sonja Schriever, the Bureau Chief of Public Health with the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare.“The second tiebreaker is if everything else is the same and their trajectory is the same, can we look at how they’re presenting clinically?”

Health officials reiterate that this tie-breaker language has not yet been used in the state of Idaho.

Public health officials in several states including Arizona and Utah have modified their crisis standards of care plans following complaints from disability and civil rights organizations.

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