PHOENIX (AP) — The U.S. Justice Department alleges in a lawsuit that a Tempe-based ophthalmology practice discriminates against patients with mobility disabilities by requiring them to hire support workers to bring them to and from its facilities for outpatient eye surgery.
The lawsuit filed on Monday alleges that the policy by Barnet Dulaney Perkins Eye Center imposes a disability-based surcharge on such patients.
The Justice Department said such assistance for patients who need help in transferring from their wheelchairs to the surgical table is routinely provided by health care providers across the country.
A call Monday afternoon seeking comment from the ophthalmology practice about the lawsuit wasn’t immediately returned.
The lawsuit said the policy treats people with mobility disabilities who require transfer assistance for surgery less favorably than people without disabilities.
The lawsuit was filed on behalf of an 80-year-old woman who has multiple sclerosis and quadriplegia and objected to the policy.
Her roundtrip transportation to the facilities for three cataract surgeries in 2019 cost $660. Using the third-party transportation service to bring her to the facility added stress to each surgery, the lawsuit alleged.
The lawsuit seeks undisclosed financial damages and a declaration from the court that the policy violates the Americans with Disabilities Act.
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DOJ alleges discrimination against ophthalmology practice