Lawsuit Accuses U.S. Army of Denying Diabetes Treatment for Children on Army Bases

Thursday, July 21, 2016
(photo: Getty Images)

By Jon Chown, Courthouse News Service


  MONTEREY, Calif. (CN) — The American Diabetes Association sued the Army on Wednesday, claiming it prohibits staff on bases from providing diabetes-related care to children.


The Diabetes Association and the mother of 6-year-old M. W. say in the federal lawsuit (pdf) that the Army refuses to give the girl access to daycare services, summer camp and sports programs at the Presidio of Monterey because she has diabetes and staff are prohibited from helping her if she is in need.


The mother, Hope W., says her daughter has to leave the program after she was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes because the Army forbids its co-defendant U.S. Army Child, Youth and School Services employees from "assisting with blood glucose monitoring and administering insulin, or even providing a rescue medication called glucagon in an emergency."


The mother says this violates the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (pdf), which prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in federal programs. The Army's blanket policy denies "children with diabetes the opportunity to participate in and to benefit from the programs and activities that CYSS offers," the mother and daughter say.


The American Diabetes Association has been working with Army to change its policy since 2010, according to the lawsuit, which says numerous families across the nation are affected.


"The U.S. Army's policy is discriminatory and completely out of step with current practices relating to caring for children with diabetes," American Diabetes Association CEO Kevin Hagan said in a statement. "Daycares, summer camps, and before- and after-school programs across the country welcome children with diabetes and give them the support they need to participate on an equal basis. It is especially important that the Army overhaul this policy because so many military families have no alternative to the CYSS care provided on their bases."


The mother seeks declaratory relief and an order requiring the Army to develop and implement a policy immediately for children with diabetes, directing staff to count carbohydrates, monitor and administer insulin and administer glucagon in emergencies.


The Army Office of Public Affairs staff did not immediately respond to a request for comment.


Brian Lepley, public affairs officer at the Presidio of Monterey said it would not be appropriate for him to comment.


The family is represented by Mary-Lee Smith with Disability Rights Advocates of Berkeley.


Smith, the office's director of litigation, said the Army's discriminatory policy has to stop immediately.


"This discriminatory policy provides little choice for parents who are effectively forced to pull their children out of the U.S. Army's high-quality programs or face jeopardizing their lives," she said in a statement.


To Learn More:

M.W., et al., v. U.S. Department of the Army (U.S. District Court, Northern District of California) (pdf)

Defense Dept. Can’t Close Useless Billion-Dollar Health Care Program until Congress Acts (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)


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