13 Mar Coalition fights aid in dying bill – The Legislative Gazette
“The economic drivers behind this policy are dangerous and need to be looked at,” said David Kim, CEO of the Beacon Christian Community Health Center on Staten Island. “It would cost the health care system less to allow aid-in-dying rather than keep terminally-ill patients alive.”
On a nationwide average, it’s estimated that Medicare pays around $153 per patient every day for hospice care. Most lethal drugs, including high doses of opioids, cost less than $100.
The proposed law states that the patient must be in good mental health, will die within six months whether or not treatment is provided and must request lethal medication themselves. The patient needs the signature of two witnesses who cannot benefit from their death to testify that the patient is acting voluntarily.
Still, those in opposition of the bill say it doesn’t properly safeguard against potential abuse. Their first issue is the diagnosis itself. Hanson note that about 15 percent of patients are misdiagnosed every year.
Adam Prizio, manager of government affairs at the Center for Disability Rights, said the bill would allow for disabled people to be taken advantage of. He argued that aid-in-dying laws only work in a perfect world where nobody is corrupt and doctors always make the right decision. “Doctors are not infallible, they often think disabled people are worse off than they actually are,” Prizio said. “We should be aiding them in living, not dying.”
Beth Mahar, director of member services, Hospice & Palliative Care Association of New York State, says more resources should be devoted to expanding and improving end-of-life care, not encouraging patients to end their lives.
According to Mahar, only 28 percent of Medicare enrollees in New York die in hospice care, as compared to 44 percent nationally.“ We should ensure access to palliative care as a top health care priority,” Mahar said. “Instead of legalizing physician assisted suicide we should focus on quality of life for those confronted with a terminal illness.”
Mahar said hospice care not only provides physical relief, but psycho-social and spiritual support for patients. She said it aims to help patients with issues of loneliness and being a burden to loved ones.