Saint Louis University Journal of Health Law & Policy

Document Type



This Article examines how plans for emergency medical rationing during the COVID-19 pandemic may discriminate against those with disabilities. More specifically, this Article lays out the obligation of state and local governments under Title II of the ADA in creating and enforcing equitable and fair rationing plans during this COVID-19 crisis. For example, ventilator shortages are a common occurrence. The ADA, similar to other civil rights laws, operates so that a person with a disability is not denied a ventilator or other resources because of his/her disability. One reason that a person with a disability may be denied limited medical resources is because of the biases a medical professional may have. They may view the life of a person with a disability as less valuable than someone that does not have a disability. The decision may also be swayed by assumptions about a person’s immune system or other medical conditions.

Title II of the ADA governs state and local governments. Its application is very broad. State governments already have obligations to create emergency preparedness plans that serve those with disabilities. This obligation extends to the rationing of scarce medical resources during the COVID-19 pandemic. The traditional relationship between the state and the practice of medicine is one of many considerations that also point to this obligation.