CASH-ON-DEMAND EPIDURALS: Offenders Should Be Punished For ‘Pay Or Pain’ Practices
An editorial in today's Los Angeles Times calls Northridge Hospital's policy of withholding epidurals from Medi-Cal recipients who could not pay for them upfront in cash an "odious pay-or-pain policy." It is "appalling, not to mention unethical and inhumane" to deprive women in labor of anesthesia, the Times says. But "it is all the more appalling in light of recent reports that poor women at county hospitals were forced to deliver babies vaginally, even in high-risk cases." Both of these policies -- two "sick attempt[s] at cost saving" -- are signs that "hospitals and doctors are under enormous fiscal pressure in this era of managed health care," according to the Times. Officials are currently investigating the epidural policies at Northridge and other hospitals, and there is legislation pending in the state Senate that would end the practice of forced vaginal deliveries. The Times concludes that "those who attempt to withhold such basic medical procedures as anesthesia and Caesarean deliveries richly deserve the punitive legal settlements and prescriptive legislation that inevitably follow the pain and trauma they have wrought" (6/16).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.