18 January 2011

The Topic of Legal Euthanasia Again

I have been over the top on this topic, but I do feel that way since I am a person with diabetes. I feel that even though the counseling or “end of life” talks that medicare has had on the books is presently directed for those in hospice presently.

I am also of the belief that if we don't speak up, there will be no one to speak for us later if they decide to go after those of us with chronic diseases. This is the reason for my following this topic so closely.

Now I need to direct you attention to someone that I have respected in the patient empowerment field, Trisha Torrey. She speaks to the topic of death panels from a different perspective. Is she right, from her point of view, yes. Do I agree with her, in a word, no.

She is not a person with a chronic disease and at present has no reason to be concerned about “end of life” sessions with her doctor. She is correct that the original fear was started by those opposing Obama care. She is against these tactics and rightfully so. They were wrong to a point in doing this and for that I also agree as they hit below the belt so to speak. These opponents were the medical insurance companies and the pharmaceutical companies.

She does use the screen of living wills and end of life counseling to say this is a good thing. She also states that “advance care planning improves end of life care”. She is right in this and should have stopped there as a patient empowerment leader. I do agree that doctors often keep people alive when there is no longer any quality of life left and any hope of being active in their own care. This is where there is a purpose in living wills and medical powers of attorney including limited medical power of attorney.

I do not agree that doctors should be encouraged to discuss end-of-life issues and be reimbursed for this. I have been asked by several of my doctors to do a living will and specify what should be done medically. I have refused to discuss this with them for my own reasons and if the Medicare reinstates this in the future, I will oppose it again. And yes, I expect it will be reinstated quietly.

And, yes, I believe that once this is done, all doctors will have their sessions if for no other than the reimbursements. In the short term, there will be little effect, but in the long term, Medicare may decide that many life saving procedures will no longer be reimbursed. This is the time that legal euthanasia or “death panels” will become a reality.

I say that patient empowerment should include watching for this to happen and opposing it at every turn. Trisha Torrey says “it is time to appreciate and embrace this new regulation”. It may improve communications with our doctors, but I am not happy about some aspects of this.

Please read Trisha Torrey's blog here. If you need to read my previous blogs on legal euthanasia, read them here and here.

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