Kiggans Votes to Prevent Discrimination in Healthcare

Feb 07, 2024
Healthcare
Press

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Congresswoman Jen Kiggans (VA-02) voted for H.R. 485, the Protecting Health Care for All Patients Act. This bill bans Quality-Adjusted Life Years (QALYs) and other similar measures from being used in federal health care programs, removing a key tool with which these programs discriminate against people with disabilities. QALYs are a metric used, including by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), to assign a dollar value on someone’s life and ration healthcare treatment and services accordingly, often discriminating against those with disabilities and chronic illnesses.

“Government bureaucrats should not determine whether a person’s life is worth living,” said Congresswoman Kiggans. “As a primary care provider, I was proud to support this important piece of legislation to ensure that patients with disabilities, including veterans, can get the healthcare that they and their doctors believe is best for them. As our healthcare industry continues to face unprecedented challenges in Virginia and around the country, I will continue to support any and all efforts to ensure that quality, affordable care is available to all Americans.”

BACKGROUND

QALYs are a measure used by federal health payers, whether that’s Medicaid or the Department of Veteran’s Affairs, to put a dollar value on the life of a patient to decide if a certain treatment is cost-effective, oftentimes discounting an individual’s worth and need for care solely because of their disability or chronic illness. Currently, only Medicare is prohibited from using measures like QALYs.

Specifically, the Protecting Health Care for All Patients Act would: 

  • Applies Medicare’s current prohibition on using QALYS and similar discriminatory measures to ALL federal health care programs, like Medicaid and VA Health Care. 
    • Medicaid is the largest payer for people with disabilities, yet we are letting it use measures that discriminate against the people that it was designed to support. 
    • The VA, which millions of injured and disabled veterans rely on, is also allowed to use these types of metrics. 
  • Maintains the ability of these health care programs to use cost and utilization management, so long as the metrics driving coverage decisions are not discriminatory in nature.

You can read the bill text here.

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