Minnesota relents to pressure, removes race as a preferential factor for COVID treatment

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Minnesota has updated its policies establishing which COVID-19 patients will receive monoclonal antibody treatment, removing race as a preferential factor in the decision-making process.

The move made by Minnesota last week comes on the heels of threats by America First Legal (AFL) to sue both the states of Utah and Minnesota for what they deemed to be an “appalling” system for determining who can receive treatment, according to Fox News.

“Using a patient’s skin color or ethnicity—rather than the unique and specific medical circumstances of an individual patient—as a basis for deciding who should obtain lifesaving medical treatment is appalling,” the AFL asserted in letters written to the two states on January 12, according to Fox News.

The AFL continued:

“The color of one’s skin is not a medical condition akin to hypertension, heart disease, or obesity, which are known to aggravate the risk of death or severe illness among those infected with COVID-19. Directing medical professionals to provide or deny medical care based on immutable characteristics like skin color, without regard to the particular health conditions of the individual patients who are seeking these life-saving antiviral treatments, is nothing more than an attempt to establish a racial hierarchy in the provision of life-saving medicine.”

 

BPR reported on January 9th about the wave of states beginning to adopt preferential consideration for COVID-19 treatment based on race, including Utah and Minnesota. A damning point system in Utah was uncovered, assigning non-white race the same status as being diabetic or obese — giving race greater value than having chronic heart, liver, kidney, or pulmonary disease. And Minnesota pointed to no less than the federal government for justification for its policy: “FDA’s acknowledgment means that race and ethnicity alone [emphasis added], apart from other underlying health conditions, may be considered in determining eligibility for mAbs.”

New York state was the first to announce race-based guidelines for rationing coronavirus treatment; on December 20th, the New York Post reported that New York City’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) website announced that the city must “consider race and ethnicity when assessing individual risk” when deciding how to distribute COVID-19 treatments.

BPR highlighted the New York scandal on January 3rd, noting that physicians were pushing back on this directive.

“New York City’s and state’s departments of health have reached a divisive and destructive low,” said Dr. Joel Zinberg, a senior fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, and an associate clinical professor of surgery at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in Manhattan in a January 2nd op-ed in the New York Post. “These directives are immoral, illegal and bear no relation to the science.”

Additional pressure came from Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., who sent a letter on January 11 to the acting commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) demanding that the agency immediately update its recent guidance regarding the distribution of coronavirus treatments.

“Rationing life-saving drug treatments based on race and ethnicity is racist and un-American. There is no other way to put it,” Rubio wrote. “Healthcare providers should focus on individual medical conditions that research shows puts patients at higher risk.”

The Minnesota Department of Health did not elaborate on the reasons for the recent change to the guidelines, saying only that reviewing rationing policies is an ongoing process and they simply want to ensure “that communities that have been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19 have the support and resources they need,” according to the Minnesota Star Tribune.

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