New York City has issued its latest guidance for the distribution of monoclonal antibodies (and other COVID-19 therapeutics) for the treatment of COVID-19. And it looks to your color, not your condition.
For the uninitiated, monoclonal antibodies are recommended by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and have been authorized by the FDA, for the treatment of COVID-19. According to the latest New York City guidelines, monoclonal antibodies are authorized as COVID-19 treatment “for people who have a medical condition or other factors that increase their risk for severe illness.”
“Other factors” that increase the risk for serious illness. What could those be?
New York City has the answer:
“Consider race and ethnicity when assessing individual risk, as longstanding systemic health and social inequities may contribute to an increased risk of getting sick and dying from COVID-19.”
The distribution of potentially life-saving medications based on the color of a patient’s skin – or, at a minimum, treatments that prevent a COVID-19 patient from life-threatening complications – has already started. According to the New York Post, “one Staten Island doctor said he filled two prescriptions for Paxlovid this week and was asked by the pharmacist to disclose the race of his patients before the treatment was authorized.”
This follows similar reports from other jurisdictions. In Texas, a white patient was denied medication because he didn’t fit the racial “criteria.”
The New York pharmacists referenced in the New York Post story were apparently unconcerned about the risk factors that transcend races: obesity, age, chronic kidney or liver disease, or diabetes. It was race that mattered. While the New York Post reporting states both patients were white, and that both patients were ultimately “granted” their prescriptions, the concern is that the NYC guidance is more broadly already in practice.
Race-Based Treatments and the Law
This gets us to the issue of the broader legality of “health equity”. While the above paragraphs describe mere “guidance” from New York City health agencies, the administration of treatments and drugs based on race can violate Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. As the Department of Justice explains:
“Title VI, 42 U.S.C. § 2000d et seq., was enacted as part of the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964. It prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, and national origin in programs and activities receiving federal financial assistance.”
The recipients of “federal financial assistance” may “include hospitals, health clinics, nursing homes, long-term care facilities, alcohol and drug treatment facilities, health research programs, almost all physicians, and Medicaid and Medicare programs.”
Certainly there would be a statutory violation if one of these New York providers received federal funds and used race as a determining factor in providing medications. And if there is, the DOJ explains it is authorized to take action by termination funding or through litigation.
At a minimum, the Biden Department of Justice should be pushing back on race-based treatment. Even if the legality can be debated (depending on whether a provider receives federal funds), the policy itself is certainly evil.
With this ongoing discrimination, and with these options of enforcement, why is the Biden Department of Justice doing nothing?
Perhaps because the Biden Administration is already playing politics with monoclonal antibodies. It recently instituted a dramatic reduction of shipments of monoclonal antibodies to Florida, claiming “such treatments are not effective against the omicron variant of the coronavirus.” As if omicron is the only variant out there. One can’t help but suspect that Florida residents are victimized, and will be victims themselves, because the Democrats don’t want Governor DeSantis (considered by many to be the 2024 Republican presidential frontrunner) to succeed.
Or perhaps the Biden Administration allows for discrimination in providing medical care because it condones discrimination overall. Their actions support this theory. Back in October 2020, the Trump DOJ initiated litigation under the same statute (Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000d et seq.) against Yale for discriminating on the basis of race and national origin. The Biden DOJ dropped the case without explanation in February 2021, two weeks after Biden’s inauguration.
If anything, the New York City policy of “health equity” is line with the Biden Administration’s broader racial equity priorities. The CDC is on the record with supporting “equitable” – and not necessarily equal – access to medical care, including the treatment of COVID-19.
As to the costs of this “health equity”?
It will be measured in lives.