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January 1, Midwest Hospital Chain Stops Using Race to Determine COVID Treatment After Backlash



The Wisconsin-based hospital chain SSM Health will no longer use race or ethnicity as a factor in determining if a patient receives monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) to treat the coronavirus.

SSM Health’s announcement came after the Wisconsin Institute of Law and Liberty (WILL) sent them a letter alleging racial discrimination in its policies to determine which patients receive life-saving treatment.

“While early versions of risk calculators across the nation appropriately included race and gender criteria based on initial outcomes, SSM Health has continued to evaluate and update our protocols weekly to reflect the most up-to-date clinical evidence available,” the company said in a statement.

“As a result, race and gender criteria are no longer utilized. The internal memo cited by WILL inadvertently referenced an expired calculator.”

In the letter, WILL lawyers cited a December 31 email the company sent to physicians referencing a risk-scoring calculator, in which non-White patients received a 7-point head start.

“For example, a 50-year-old white female (15 points) suffering from obesity (1 point), asthma (1 point), and hypertension (1 point) would not be eligible for mAbs because she does not receive the 20-point minimum score under the calculator,” the letter stated. “On the other hand, an otherwise healthy 50-year-old African-American female (22 points), without any of these health risks, would be eligible.”

The attorneys argued that SSM’s risk-scoring calculator “is not only profoundly unethical and immoral, it is illegal.”

The timing of the change sparked questions from WILL attorney Dan Lennington.

“We’re encouraged that SSM Health has dropped the racial classifications from their risk-scoring calculator,” Lennington said in a statement. “But if they updated this calculator before today, we have yet to see any communication to Wisconsin physicians on the matter. We still profoundly disagree with SSM’s position that race is an ‘appropriate’ consideration when treating patients for COVID.”

SSM Health is a Catholic not-for-profit healthcare company that operates facilities in Wisconsin, Illinois, Missouri, and Oklahoma.


SSM Health will not use race and gender to determine who gets COVID treatment after receiving letter from WILL

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