In this powerful 10-minute video featuring our Executive Director, Kevin Prindiville, the filmmaker explores the ageism inherent in the United States’ response to the COVID-19 pandemic. This first episode of a series explores the widely-shared narrative that our elders should be sacrificed for the economy, as exemplified by comments from conservative political leaders suggesting that the economy has more value than the health and safety of vulnerable people. “Age and ageism is really strange type of othering, said Kevin. “Because we all hope to eventually grow older. But we tend to think of older people as a “them” and that allows us to make policy decisions that are not only harmful for that group, but for all of us.”
New York Times: Should Youth Come First in Coronavirus Care? (July 31, 2020)
This piece about the ethics of care rationing guidelines, should hospitals become overwhelmed with COVID-19 patients, featured our work opposing care standards that discriminate against older adults and people with disabilities illegally. We have filed a number of complaints, in coalition with others, in the Office of Civil Rights of the federal Department of Health and Human Services. In March, the Office of Civil Rights reaffirmed that the Affordable Care Act and other federal statutes prohibit discrimination, in health facilities receiving federal funds, on the basis of age, disability and other characteristics. But many guidelines persist in using “life years” as a criterion, or use age as a tiebreaker. “That would be bias, in our view,” said Regan Bailey, the director of litigation for Justice in Aging.
KJZZ: Justice in Aging Director: Coronavirus Exposes Deep-Seated Ageism (July 28, 2020)
In the early days of the coronavirus pandemic, we repeatedly heard that the virus primarily affects older adults — that older adults are more likely to die from it. But framing the coronavirus as something that impacts only “old people” exposed something else: rampant ageism. Kevin Prindiville is the executive director at Justice in Aging, a nonprofit legal advocacy group. “If the COVID crisis, right from the beginning, we knew it was disproportionately leading to the death of children, I think we would have been much faster to shut down as a society,” he said. “So that was the first really clear example of ageism. I think a next clear example would be the crisis care standards that many states rolled out across the country.”
Refinery 29: New Jersey’s Nursing Home Deaths Reveal our Problem with Elder Discrimination, (April 16, 2020)
This article about the high number of deaths in nursing facilities from COVID-19 shines a light on the systemic ageism that devalues seniors’ lives in health care settings. The article goes on to talk about states, such as Massachusetts, that have issued discriminatory policies that prioritize ventilators and life-saving procedures for younger patients. The article mentions our letter to the state’s governor and quotes from it, saying, the state’s policy, “violates the antidiscrimination provisions of the Affordable Care Act” related to age discrimination. The guidance includes a framework requiring assessments for life-saving resources be made to prioritize “maximizing life years saved” by taking a patient’s long-term prognosis into consideration, as well as “life-cycle considerations,” which prioritize younger patients.