On Wednesday, April 29, Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed Executive Order 2020-64, which reaffirms the state’s commitment to equitable access to healthcare and requires healthcare facilities to develop protocols that ensure non-discrimination in the event demands for critical healthcare resources exceed availability.
“Michigan has one of the finest healthcare systems in the country, and our medical professionals are performing heroically under trying circumstances. But the unprecedented challenges posed by this pandemic have created a heightened need for clear, transparent protocols based on a common understanding of core values, including equitable access to care,” Gov. Whitmer said. “Everyone, no matter who they are, deserves access to quality, affordable healthcare, especially during a pandemic. This executive order helps ensure all individuals, no matter their circumstances, have equitable access to these critical resources as we continue to fight this deadly disease.”
The order affirms the right to receive medical care without discrimination based on stereotypes, assessments of quality of life or judgments about a person’s relative “worth” based on the presence of disabilities or other factors. It also requires all healthcare providers to take steps to ensure non-discrimination and support individuals’ functional needs to the fullest extent possible.
Under the order, designated healthcare facilities must also:
• Develop patient care protocols for when demand exceeds availability of resources that prohibit discriminatory decision-making based on a number of factors. These protocols must be based on the best available medical evidence.
• Provide sign language interpreters if requested, and provide interpreters with appropriate personal protective equipment.
• Coordinate and share information about availability of resources and ability to transfer patients with the state Department of Health and Human Services.
• Post protocols online and provide them upon request.
The requirement to develop these protocols that guide decision-making applies to hospitals and entities used as surge capacity for one or more hospitals.
The order is effective immediately and continues until Michigan’s emergency and disaster declarations are lifted.