504 Comment

Take Action! Make Your Own Public Comment about Disability Law

In order to improve the protections for people with disabilities, the Department of Health and Human Services is issuing a new rule titled Discrimination on the Basis of Disability in Health and Human Service Programs or Activities that updates the regulation that implements Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, a federal law prohibiting disability discrimination.

This rule could have a major impact on some fat people’s rights because a society that is not built to accommodate us often disables us, and the harm is increased when we can’t seek protections under disability laws. Discrimination based on weight has a disproportionate and often dire impact on Black and Brown people. 

If you live at the intersections of fat and disability (including the disabling impact of structural weight stigma) FLARE! urges you to comment: Share your experiences and insist that higher-weight people who meet the legal definition of disability are included in the protections afforded by the new rule. Don’t worry – comments don’t need to be long to be effective.

IMPORTANT TIP: Duplicate comments do not count. You need to make your comment your own and unique. It’s powerful if you share your own experience, but remember that it’s a public comment, so don’t share anything too personal.

Comments are due soon, but don’t worry, they can be short! 

You can make a public comment at https://bit.ly/FLARE504 by 11/13/23 at 8:59 PM Pacific Time (11:59 PM Eastern Time)

Include this reference number in your comment: RIN 0945-AA15

In your public comment, you can include your personal experience in any/all of these areas:

Discrimination in Medical Treatment (care received including primary, urgent, emergency, and surgical care)

Accessible Medical Equipment and Scoping (chairs, gowns, blood pressure cuffs, exam tables and Imaging equipment that accommodate higher-weight bodies. “Scoping” refers to what percentage of equipment should be accessible; if there are 5 exam tables, how many of those should have a higher weight capacity?)

Organ Transplants (BMI-based denials of care)

Life-Sustaining Treatment, Crisis Standards of Care and Nondiscriminatory Criteria (weight-based criteria used to exclude higher-weight people from care)

Participation in Medical Research (Lack of inclusion of higher-weight people in medical research leading to tools, best practices, and pharmacotherapies that are less effective for higher-weight people.)

Discrimination Prohibited (Healthcare denials based on healthcare providers’ beliefs that higher-weight people are “responsible” for their healthcare condition and/or are likely to be less compliant.)

Denial of Treatment for a Separate Symptom or Condition (When higher-weight people are denied care, or care is delayed, for conditions other than weight because of their weight; includes denials because complication rates may be slightly higher and/or outcomes may be slightly less optimal than for thinner people.)

Children, Parents, Caregivers, Foster Parents, and Prospective Parents with Disabilities in the Child Welfare System, Discrimination Prohibited in Child Welfare Services (When weight is used against higher-weight parents, higher-weight children in removals, guardianships, foster and adoption placement and assessments, and/or when child welfare activities fail to accommodate higher-weight people.

Recommendations related to the Definition of Disability (Whether we personally identify as disabled or not, since medical science is currently treating “obesity” as a serious, chronic disease, fat people who meet that medical threshold should be included under the legal definition of disability, giving us access to critical protections and remedies when we face discrimination like denial of medical care or child removals based on weight. Lack of protections hurt all fat people, but Black and Brown fat people are disproportionately impacted.)

Again, you can make a public comment at https://bit.ly/FLARE504 by 11/13/23 at 8:59 PM Pacific Time (11:59 PM Eastern Time). Be sure to include this reference number in your comment: RIN 0945-AA15