Proposed 504 Rule: Reinforcing Disability Rights and Equity

The Partnership for Inclusive Disaster Strategies (The Partnership) is encouraged that the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has issued a proposed rule that will address discrimination on the basis of disability in Health and Human Services programs or activities.

The proposed rule comes at a critical moment for Disabled people. Accelerating climate change is increasing disasters and public health emergencies, causing people with disabilities to die and be institutionalized. People with disabilities are 2 to 4 times more likely to die or be injured in disasters than non-disabled people. In the United States this is largely because Disabled people do not have equal access to disaster-related programs and services, including medical services. The rule will help rectify pervasive discrimination in health care by more explicitly delineating our rights in medical areas where we are especially likely to encounter discrimination. 

If adopted, the proposed rule could lessen institutionalization of Disabled people during and in the aftermath of disasters, bolster equal provision of care and medical services in disasters and public health emergencies, and begin to give Disabled people parity in disasters and public health emergencies. The proposed rule is an important move toward disability equity and inclusion.

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