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Argument: Euthanasia is driven by a cynical desire to cut health care costs

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Supporting quotations

Rita Marker, J.D. Executive Director, International Task Force on Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide. "Assisted Suicide and Cost Containment," 1999 - "Cost containment well could become the engine that pulls the legislative train along the track to death on demand. Those who advocate dismantling the barriers that now protect patients from assisted suicide recognize the power of cost containment."[1]

Wesley Smith. Consultant to the International Anti-Euthanasia Task Force. Forced Exit. (1997) - "Legalized euthanasia and assisted suicide would have the potential to save financially strapped government programs, such as Oregon's Medicaid plan, millions by eradicating people whose care is expensive. Perhaps that is why, when Measure 16 [the Oregon 'Death With Dignity' Act] passed, the director of Oregon's Medicaid plan announced that assisted suicide would be considered 'comfort care' and thus paid for by the state's Medicaid plan."[2]

Merrill Matthews, Director of the Center for Health Policy Studies at the National Center for Policy Analysis. "Would Physician-Assisted Suicide Save the Healthcare System Money?", chapter in Physician Assisted Suicide: Expanding the Debate. 1998. - "Even though the various elements that make up the American healthcare system are becoming more circumspect in ensuring that money is not wasted, the cap that marks a zero-sum healthcare system is largely absent in the United States... Considering the way we finance healthcare in the United States, it would be hard to make a case that there is a financial imperative compelling us to adopt physician-assisted suicide in an effort to save money so that others could benefit..."

Felicia Cohn, Ph.D., and Joanne Lynn, M.D., M.A., M.S. The Case Against Assisted Suicide: For the Right to End-of-Life Care. 2002 - "... Physician-assisted suicide conjures fear that someone else will determine what is to be considered excessive suffering or costs, and that others might seek to eliminate the suffering or the costs by eliminating those persons who are perceived to be suffering or costly. The elderly...are particularly vulnerable to the effects of inadequate health care resources and the attendant constraints on medical decision making...

Care of those who are elderly, particularly those approaching the end of life, has proven to be expensive...

In an era when resources are increasingly being squeezed while the population ages and health care needs increase, the elderly and the dying compete against other portions of the population for health care services. Given the high and seemingly disproportionate costs of health care for the elderly and those in the final phase of life, these 'users of excessive medical resources' may be the targets of cost-saving efforts...

The calls for legalizing physician-assisted suicide arise in a social system that is inattentive to the complex physical, emotional, and spiritual needs of people as they near the end of life. Additionally, abuse is a real risk, especially among those who are elderly..."[3]

Wesley Smith, Consultant to the International Anti-Euthanasia Task Force. Forced Exit. 1997 - "Remember, for H.M.O.s (health-maintenance organizations), profits come not through providing services but from limiting costs, meaning reducing services in some cases. Imagine the money that could be saved--and thus profits earned--by H.M.O.s by not treating cancer patients because they 'choose' instead to be killed; in not treating AIDS patients because they choose instead to be killed; in not treating M.S. patients because they 'choose' instead to be killed; in not treating quadriplegic patients because they 'choose' instead to be killed.

This disturbing paradigm is one reason why managed care is now called 'managed death' by those who worry about legalized euthanasia in a health-care system dominated by H.M.O.s."[4]

George Runner, California State Senator. "Valley Perspective; Suicide Is Not a Treatment for Anything; The 'Right to Die' Plus Managed Care is a Dangerous Combination". LA Times. April 4, 1999 - "Health Maintenance Organizations (HMOs) may attempt to reduce health care costs by refusing to pay for expensive or 'unnecessary' procedures. What better way to cut costs than on those people who won't be here much longer anyway?

If this sounds farfetched, consider the following: While discussing the recently passed Oregon right-to-die law, a spokesperson for QualMed Oregon Health Plan confirmed that it would cover lethal medications 'as a prescription' while its 'value option' plan limits hospice care to $1,000...

Just think of all the money that could be saved by HMOs if they spared the expense of treating AIDS patients or the disabled, many of whom could easily be classified as terminally ill..."

Rita Marker, Executive Director of the International Task Force on Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide. "Assisted Suicide and Cost Containment". Insight magazine. March 8, 1999. - "No matter what one's views may be about the concept of assisted suicide, it's necessary to reflect on the context in which it would be carried out. This reflection necessarily includes consideration of contemporary economic forces affecting health care.

As acting solicitor general Walter Dellinger said during his 1997 argument against assisted suicide before the U.S. Supreme Court, 'The least costly treatment for any illness is lethal medication.'

He was, of course, correct. A prescription for a deadly overdose runs about $35. Once taken, the patient won't consume any more health care dollars…"[5]

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