Utah, Minnesota Face Legal Action for Factoring Race, Ethnicity in Administering COVID-19 Drugs

By Isabel van Brugen
Isabel van Brugen
Isabel van Brugen
Reporter
Isabel van Brugen is an award-winning journalist and currently a news reporter at The Epoch Times. She holds a master's in newspaper journalism from City, University of London.
January 13, 2022 Updated: January 15, 2022

A nonprofit group led by former members of the Trump administration on Wednesday threatened to sue the health departments of Minnesota and Utah after they issued guidance that considers race and ethnicity to determine COVID-19 treatment eligibility.

America First Legal (AFL) in two separate letters to both states accused the health departments of issuing “blatantly racist, unconstitutional, and immoral policies” that “direct the ration of medicine based on race and self-selected ethnicity.”

In Utah, COVID-19 patients are subject to a scoring system to determine who is most at risk, and therefore, eligible for certain treatments. The racial/ethnic category receives two “points,” similar to patients with the “highest-risk comorbidities” such as being severely immunocompromised, having diabetes, or being obese.

The system grants one point for COVID-19 patients with “other high-risk comorbidities,” including hypertension, coronary artery disease, chronic kidney disease, congestive heart failure, and chronic liver disease.

A patient’s age also determines how many points they receive. A person aged 16 to 20 would receive one point, while those aged 71 to 80 would receive four.

Meanwhile, in Minnesota, a document from the health department says that based on guidance from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, “race and ethnicity alone, apart from other underlying health conditions, may be considered in determining a patient’s eligibility for [monoclonal antibodies].”

“The FDA has acknowledged that in addition to certain underlying health conditions, race and ethnicity ‘may also place individual parents at high risk for progression to severe COVID-19,’” the document states.

“It is ethically appropriate to consider whether a patient has elevated risk of poor COVID-19 outcomes and that this risk cannot be adequately addressed by determining eligibility based on underlying health conditions (perhaps due to impaired access to health care and underdiagnosis of health conditions that elevates risk of poor COVID-19 outcomes),” it says.

AFL President Stephen Miller issued a statement calling for the policies to be immediately rescinded.

“These racist policies decide questions of life and death based on skin color and must be rescinded immediately.  It’s an abomination. They radically violate federal law, the United States Constitution, and the sacred principle of equal justice for all,” said Miller.

“Equity is the use of raw societal power to discriminate against American citizens based on their race or other protected characteristics—and these equity programs spreading throughout government must be abolished if liberty and equality are to survive and endure. No right is safe if the government can award or deny medical care based on race. End this horrid injustice,” Miller added.

Gene Hamilton, AFL’s vice-president and general counsel, said the policies are “rooted in Marxist principles and social justice.”

They “demand the use of government power to distribute and redistribute resources not based on equal rights, but based on ‘equity,’” he said in a statement.

“All Americans who reject the influence of Marxism and support equal rights for all should prepare themselves to fight back against these efforts in the weeks, months, and years ahead. We at America First Legal will not stand by idly and let this happen,” Hamilton added.

The Epoch Times has reached out to the Minnesota Department of Health and Utah’s health department for comment.

Isabel van Brugen
Isabel van Brugen is an award-winning journalist and currently a news reporter at The Epoch Times. She holds a master's in newspaper journalism from City, University of London.